July 2011 Posts

Guest Post: Why I Blog – Kate Scott

We’re starting a new blog series here on the Tyndale Blog called “Why I Blog”. We’ll be learning from bloggers through guests posts, interviews and other unique ways about what got them blogging and what keeps them going. You may even pick up a few tips from some experienced and consistant bloggers.

Today’s post is from Kate Scott, aka The Parchment Girl. Kate blogs over at her site parchmentgirl.com which has an excellent design, plus Kate is an amazingly consistent blogger who seems to always be interviewing authors and putting up new reviews and thoughts. Be sure to check out her site, or follow her on twitter.

Why I Blog
By Kate Scott

I discovered blogging in 2006 and decided to dip my toes in the water and try it out. I set up my first blog where I wrote humorous anecdotes about reconciling my New England upbringing with the southern culture I found myself living in. A handful of posts and one lone comment later, I lost interest and deleted my blog like so many other first-time bloggers do.

Three years later I started reading other people’s blogs and pretty soon it dawned on me that most bloggers were integrated into one or more niche-centered community. There were groups of Christian blogs that all seemed to link to each other. There were interior design bloggers and health food bloggers, homeschool bloggers, mommy bloggers, and technology bloggers. Heck, there were even bloggers who blogged about blogging, and they all seemed to belong to a network of similarly focused web writers.

I was inspired by the sense of community and camaraderie I saw amongst like-minded bloggers and decided to give blogging another go. I spent a year learning the ropes, tinkering around with different blogging platforms, getting to know other bloggers, and teaching myself HTML and CSS.

During this time I stumbled across a few book blogs and started to poke around and ask questions. As an ardent reader and lifetime bookworm, the idea of blogging about books instantly clicked with me. I joined the blogger review programs Thomas Nelson and WaterBrook Multnomah had at the time. I started to dedicate more and more posts to reviewing books and finally decided to scrap the personal blog altogether and focus solely on book blogging. Six months later, The Parchment Girl was born.

Before launching The Parchment Girl, I spent a lot of money to hire Darcy of Graphically Designing to design my blog. I did this for two reasons: First, I wanted to start off with a look that would catch people’s attention and hopefully entice them to stick around. Second, I knew I would need motivation to keep writing in the early growth stages when hardly anyone would be reading my blog. How could I call it quits when I had just invested so much financially in this project?

My self-motivation plan worked and I’ve been blogging consistently for almost a year now. The motivation of getting a return on my investment has been replaced by the intellectual stimulation and support and I receive from the book blogging community and others who read my blog. Not that long ago a friend told me that one of her friends who I don’t know reads my blog regularly and buys most of the books I recommend. Hearing that kind of encouragement justifies the 20+ hours I spend on my blog every week and keeps me going during creative slumps when I feel like chucking my laptop out the window. It’s what makes blogging such a rewarding hobby.

Free Tyndale Digital First Titles

In May Tyndale announced it’s new Digital First direct to ebook publishing initiative. To celebrate the launch of these excellent titles we’re offering six of them for free for a limited time. Below is the list of free titles and where you can get them – remember, you don’t need an ereader to read ebooks!

Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

40 Days Without Food by Russ Masterson

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Cash Burn by Michael Berrier

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Delivery by Diana Prusik

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Employee Guest Post: Marianne Chrisos

Today we welcome Tyndale employee Marianne Chrisos to the blog. When I first met Marianne she sat next to me in a cubicle in the customer service department, and we talked about our dreams of going to grad school. Almost two years later we both moved up in Tyndale, and she’s about to finish her graduate degree in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University in Chicago. Someday I’ll get mine too, but in the meantime Marianne provides the inspiration and proof that you can pursue your dreams while pursuing your dreams.

A Degree in Writing and Publishing Was My Clever Idea

By Marianne Chrisos

When a person graduates with an English degree, it is my experience that many of them will answer the question, “Now what?” with, “I’d like to be an editor.” I know I did. This is a great answer. Editors are often brilliant, lovely people.

The “Now what?” question still exists as the exit from a graduate degree looms. In a few short weeks, I will have a master’s degree. And though I have been blessed to work in publishing, and a degree in “Writing and Publishing” should fit so simply with my career, that question is still something I find myself asking.

I have taken classes in language, style, writing, and even poetry. I have analyzed literature and writing and Old English; I have prayed that God would give me the right words to finish an assignment and for the strongest, hottest coffee to get me through the next day. And while I can’t say I’m necessarily any closer to a “real” answer for the “now what?” question, I have seen firsthand how important reading and good writing are to people, how lives are spent in the pursuit and study of literature, and this continues to show me just how important my place in publishing is and how very alive the publishing industry is.

It has been an intense experience working full time in publishing and working towards a degree in essentially the same field. Each has had an effect on the other. I was able to take what I know about publishing into the classroom and contribute my hands-on experience and knowledge to papers and discussions. Now, I can continue to see publishing as a huge, noisy classroom. Publishing is a constantly changing, vibrant environment. Graduate school encourages creativity and collaboration, not a prescribed curriculum. This is something that the publishing industry needs to continue to embrace and something that I hope to carry with me as I contribute in the industry that continues to grow, change and thrive.

Marianne is the National Accounts Sales Assistant at Tyndale, you can find more of her writing and an occasional owl at http://mariannemchrisos.com/.

Guest Post: Author Jeanette Windle

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Jeanette Windle, the award winning author of Betrayed, Freedom’s Stand and Veiled Freedom. If you’d like to read Jeanette’s book Veiled Freedom, it’s currently, for a limited time, being offered for free in ebook format in the following places:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors
Sony

Afghanistan, Faith and Freedom’s Stand

By Jeanette Windle

Once you’ve found true freedom, how far would you go to share it with others? My recent Tyndale House fiction release Freedom’s Stand is a sequel to 2010 Christian Book Award and Christy Award, Veiled Freedom, set in contemporary Afghanistan. In brief, Veiled Freedom brought together on Kabul’s dusty streets three unlikely allies, each in their own personal quest for truth and freedom.  Returning in Freedom’s Stand, they soon discover that in a country where political and religious injustice runs rampant, the cost of either may be higher than they realize.

This entire story was birthed of my own frustration, disappointment—and hope. Like others, I had rejoiced in the post-9/11 overthrow of Afghanistan’s Taliban, believing it presaged new optimism for freedom and peace in that region. A decade later, headlines reflect instead rising violence, corruption, lawlessness and despair. The signing of Afghanistan’s new constitution, establishing an Islamic republic under sharia law, tolled a death knell for any hope of real democracy.

And yet the many players I’ve met in this drama have involved themselves for the most part with the best of intentions. The more I came to know the region and love its people, I was left asking, “If with all the aid and arms and good intentions, freedom has not come to Afghanistan, what is the true source of freedom? Can outsiders ever truly purchase freedom for another culture or people?”

The answer is, of course, that true freedom cannot be bestowed on another people through arms or an aid package, but only through individual hearts transformed by coming face to face with Jesus Christ.

Ironically, the real-life narrative that most inspired this story had not yet happened when I began writing it, though conditions were such I knew it was only a matter of time. By the time Freedom’s Stand headed to print, Red Cross therapist and war amputee Sayed Mossa was but one Afghan Isa-follower who had found himself on death row for his faith under the current Karzai regime. Though back-door deals recently brought about Sayed’s release, this is not the unmitigated victory it seems. Sayed Mossa is now exiled from his country as a condemned apostate, while other Isa-followers with less public press continue on death row in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the freedom of faith issue itself remains unaddressed.

In Freedom’s Stand, main protagonist Steve Wilson makes the blunt statement regarding freedom of faith in Afghanistan: “The way I see it, we can’t walk the fence forever. Sooner or later the nations that call themselves free are going to face one of two choices. Either they’ll have to face head-on an oppressive, corrupt ideology that dictates to a billion people how they can or cannot pray, think, act, believe. Which will be a problem since in the meantime they’ve been arming regimes practicing that ideology to their collective teeth. Or they’re going to wake up one day and discover that their own freedoms are gone.  What won’t happen is that the ‘free West’ can keep enjoying forever their own freedoms while tacitly conceding those are now considered optional for the rest of this planet.”

Whether ratifying sharia law constitutions for Afghanistan and Iraq or arming to the teeth Islamic fundamentalist governments like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia without requiring any accountability regarding human rights and freedom of faith, we are seeing a steady erosion among both the United States and other Western governments to any policy commitment that basic human freedoms are a non-negotiable right of every human being, not just those fortunate enough to live in “free” nations. As my Freedom’s Stand protagonist so aptly pointed out, sooner or later, that compromise will come back to bite us.

Is there hope for Afghanistan?

I will never forget one female humanitarian volunteer I met while in Kabul researching. Working within the Afghan educational system, she was decorously draped in hair shawl and long-sleeved, floor-length chapan overcoat despite 100 degree Fahrenheit summer weather. Still young, unmarried, and a known follower of Isa Masih, Jesus Christ, she’d begun to receive death threats. Not from mullahs or Taliban, but fellow professors and male students whose very livelihood and education were being funded by Western aid dollars.

Did she see things as getting better, I asked her. Would democracy and freedom eventually somehow ooze out of this mess on its own, as Western embassies fantasized? And what did the current deteriorating situation presage for the safety of volunteers like herself?

For a long, silent moment, she paused. Then, calmly, quietly, she answered, “It’s going to come to the shedding of blood.”

She paused again before adding just as calmly and quietly, “And I’m willing for that blood to be mine.”

And therein lies the hope for Afghanistan that neither guns nor aid nor elections have been able to effect. The hope for our planet. Love. Unstinting. Unconditional. Self-sacrificing. Life-transforming.

Love of the Almighty Creator stepping into a troubled planet in the human form of Isa Masih, Jesus Christ, walking our dusty streets to draw us back to himself and in the end laying down His life on a cross in atonement for our sins.

Love of Christ-followers abandoning comfortable homes and lives to step into a troubled nation in some distant corner of the planet, laying down their lives in service to a people who too often do not even appreciate their sacrifice. That quiet, sacrificial self-abandoning love became the inextricable thread running through the Veiled Freedom/Freedom’s Stand story.

What can we do? What should we do?

One, we need to pray for Christians on death row in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, for the body of Christ in so many countries whose worship of their Savior must be underground and under threat of death or imprisonment. As the body of Christ, we can get involved. Organizations like Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, Persecution offer great resources on how to get involved.

But we also need to speak up. To require accountability once again of our politicians, of our own alliances. Especially in areas of military armament and aid of regimes that do not permit the freedom to choose one’s own faith in God.

If we do not speak up for accountability on freedom of faith issues, the day may come when such freedom is no longer a given for our nations either.  To learn more about these issues, Afghanistan itself, my own website and blog (www.jeanettewindle.com) has a list of recommended reading and other material.


July Free Ebooks

As the summer begins to hit it’s peak months of sunny weather and high temperatures, sometimes it’s great to know that you can spend some of that time either enjoying the weather with a nice book, or enjoying your air conditioning with a nice book. Here’s some ebook you can enjoy for free this month. (Remember you don’t need an e-reader to read ebooks, click here to learn how.)

Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors
Sony

Leadership Prayers by Richard Kreigbaum

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors
Sony

Taken by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors
Sony