Thursday, January 26, 2006

Confessions of a self-absorbed writer

I want to be humble. Self-effacing. Casual about the fact that I have a novel coming out in June.

Instead, I find ways to work it into every conversation.

"That'll be $7.65 for the chips and pop, Ma'am."

"Here you go. And speaking of snacks, I need to snack a lot because I'm working on a new novel. I have a book coming out. . . "

Not only that, I've begun to obsessively check my standing on As soon as the book was posted I delighted in googling the title over and over.

Then I discovered the scary fact that I could see my book's ranking among all the books on

Mind you, the book is not available. It comes out in June, 2006. So there are no sales yet.

But I can't help it. I keep checking in on my ranking. I've crashed below one million other books by now.

You'd think the fact that there ARE a million other books listed on amazon would be enough to humble me. Instead I dream of when the book releases and people order it on amazon and I rocket up to 700,000 from the top.

Is there a "Top 700,000 List" for book sales?

Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself.

But self-absorption is no laughing matter. Self-importance is an ugly sin. It's my twisted tool to convince myself I'm valuable. . . instead of taking my value from the true place--from being a dearly loved child of God.

Lord, change my heart. Let me be absorbed in Your beauty and majesty and forget myself. Let me have Your love for others that values them above myself. Let me have the confidence that comes from knowing that I belong to You, so I don't have to measure my worth by my "To Do" list. Oh, and Lord . . . have I mentioned I have a book coming out? . . .

Monday, January 23, 2006


Sharon: Today I have the privilege of welcoming prolific and skilled author, Mary DeMuth to my blog. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!

Hi, Mary!

Thanks so much for dropping by my blog for a visit.

Your new book, Building the Christian Family You Never Had, addresses the challenges of setting a new course in parenting when there are issues you don’t want to emulate from your family of origin. You share poignantly about your own childhood. Neglect and abuse are tragic experiences to heal from. As you speak with other Christian parents, what are some of the other past childhood experiences that make it difficult to create the family they desire in the present?

Mary: Indifference is probably one of the hardest things to recover from. At least with raging parents, you know there is emotion, but with indifferent parents, a child has a hard time navigating that. Does my dad love me? Want me? Does my mom think I was a mistake? And then what usually flows out of that is a hyper sense of self-reliance. If I am going to make it through life, I will have to take care of myself. That’s a hard pattern to break because to parent differently, we need Jesus. We need His strength in our weakness, but if we’ve spent our entire lives being strong (in ourselves) it’s harder to rely on Jesus for our healing.

Sharon: Since you are living in France, you have a unique opportunity to experience a different cultural view of family. How do key values of parenting differ in France, or how are they similar to the U.S.?

Mary: They are very different. At my children’s school, I’ve been asked what I do. When I say I’ve written parenting books, a puzzled expression comes over them, and then I am asked, “Oh, so you must be a child psychologist.” When I told my dentist who was fluent in English about my parenting books, he said, “Parenting? I don’t know that word.” I’ve found there really isn’t an equivalent. The French don’t think that way. They raise their kids the best they know how, but would be reluctant to grab a book off the shelf about raising children.

Sharon: Completely off the parenting topic, I read in your book that you loved the song “One Tin Soldier” when you were young. So did I! I still burst into late 60s, early 70s songs at the slightest provocation. What are some of your other favorites? I sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” for hours alone in my room with my guitar. I also loved a song my 6th grade teacher taught me that started, “Tell me why you’re cryin’ my son…” and the chorus was “If you take my hand my son, all will be well when the day is done.” (Ah, we’re back to parenting) ☺

Mary: Well, I still have an old Young Life songbook in my possession. I hope I didn’t steal it! And in there is the famous “Cats in the Cradle” song, which does relate to parenting! So, there, I brought it back around!

Sharon: I particularly related to Chapter 14, “A Funny Thing Happened While Raising My Kids.” I also tend to be too serious, hyper-responsible, and have difficulty initiating and entering into FUN with the kids. What are some activities you’ve done with your children recently that have raised the fun level in your home?

Mary: We’ve been doing a more hands-on church with them in this transitional period. (We are church planters in France and our church is not yet up and running. We have our first preview service on Palm Sunday). So, we’ve been doing a more artistic approach. We’ve used where there are incredibly well-written bible studies that have an artistic element. So, we’ll study lament psalms, for instance, and then write our own lament and then create an art project around that. Right now we’re studying Esther, so we made Esther paper dolls. (You can see our creations on the soulpersuit site). It’s been incredibly fun. We’re also trying to keep a Sabbath on Sunday, so we do life-giving things together like take walks or create little art projects together or play games.

Sharon: Thanks for writing this tremendous book. It’s the book I wish I’d had years ago before I wore myself out with formula books and efforts to be a perfect parent!

Hey, everyone, you can find the book in your local stores, or at This is one you’ll want on your “books to keep forever” shelf.

Mary: Thanks so much for having me, Sharon! I’m so glad the book blessed you!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Power of Story

Last night I heard author Noel Piper speak. I'm reading her latest book, FAITHFUL WOMEN AND THEIR EXTRAORDINARY GOD, a collection of biographies.

One of Mrs. Piper's comments was a special blessing to me. She said that people are able to see truths in the lives of other people much more readily than they can see it in themselves. She has found that while reading biographies, she notices things about choices, motives, character, mistakes--and after seeing these in the life of the book's subject, is able to recognize similar issues in her own life.

I realized that is the same reason I love fiction. While I watch a character miss the boat, cause unneccessary pain, suffer from unwise choices, my defenses lower and I'm willing to acknowledge similar problems in my own life. When the character makes a tough decision in the right direction, dares to change, confronts a problem, my heart swells with belief that our choices can make a difference and the daily battles of life are worth the fight.

Some days when I trudge to my computer screen for yet another round of revisions I wonder about the value of my work.
All this word-wrestling. Is there a reason for it? Will it matter to anyone?

Then I remember how other author's stories have brought truth and insight to my life, and I'm excited by the challenge of writing with enough skill to let the reader experience something new, yet recognize the familiar.