Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

National Autism Awareness Month: An Interview with Author D’Ann Renner

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Dancing From the ShadowsIn celebration of National Autism Awareness Month, Ambassador International spotlights author D’Ann Renner and her book Dancing From the Shadows that discusses her firsthand experience with having her child diagnosed with autism. During National Autism Awareness Month, D’Ann’s book is available on Amazon.com or ChristianBook.com for only $3.99 for your eReader. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism according to austismspeaks.org. Renner provides inspiration for parents everywhere who experience similar difficulties and pleasures of having a child with autism.

Ambassador: What were the main signs from your child that ultimately lead to the autism diagnosis?

D’Ann Renner: He didn’t play with toys typically- he’d spin the wheels of a toy truck without doing anything else. He would spend hours spinning a mixing bowl or watching a ceiling fan. He didn’t make much eye contact, was speech-delayed, and didn’t seem to feel pain.

Ambassador: How did you find peace with God after the autism diagnosis?

D’Ann Renner: I was angry and depressed at first, because I knew God could heal him, but wasn’t choosing to do so. I wondered how I had so displeased God that He would choose to punish my son. That’s just plain bad theology! Eventually, I came to the place that I could trust that God loved my son more than I did, and had a good plan for his life. Autism is not a punishment. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a gift. We all have challenges that God can turn into gifts if we allow Him.

Ambassador: Do you still struggle with finding peace? How do you deal with those moments?

D’Ann Renner: Yes, especially at transition times- like entering high school, or when other kids are getting their learner’s permits. At those times, I see a Grand Canyon sized gap D'Ann Rennerbetween reality and what my expectations were. I deal with it by reminding myself: God is Sovereign, God is good. Only He knows how beautifully our lives are being woven into the tapestry of eternity.

Ambassador: After immersing yourself into the special needs world for autism, what information do you wish was more widely known?

D’Ann Renner: Children with autism DO want to have social relationships. They DO have senses of humor. One just has to work harder to discover how to interact with them, and it takes time and patience.  And- kids with autism, even if they are non-verbal, understand a lot more of what is being said and what is happening, and they can be badly hurt by it.

Ambassador: What similarities do you share with the main character in Dancing From the Shadows?

D’Ann Renner: I did have a successful career in marketing, although not nearly as brilliant as Tori’s. We did adopt children from Bulgaria, and I’ve experienced many of the incidents she does in the book, although I fictionalized them and merged them with the experiences of others. THERE IS NO SIMILARITY BETWEEN MY HUSBAND BRUCE AND TORI’S HUSBAND PHILLIP!  Bruce is a wonderful, supportive husband, but that’s not true for many parents with special needs children. The character Phillip was based on the ex-spouses (male and female) of many friends and acquaintances.

Ambassador: Do you have any advice for parents who recently received the autism diagnosis?

D’Ann Renner: I’m going to go against the norm here, so understand this is just my feeling. It’s more important, in my opinion, to concentrate on expanding the child’s ability to think flexibly and communicate than it is to teach rote skills. I feel we concentrated so much in the early years on getting Luke to speak that I neglected working on his desire to communicate, and expanding his ability to think in a flexible way.  If I had it to do over again, I’d embrace more therapies like Floor Time, Relational Development Intervention, Neurodevelopment and programs like the SonRise protocol, rather than ABA. But that is just my opinion and many wonderful parents disagree with me.

Through the month of April, National Autism Awareness Month, pick up a copy of Dancing From the Shadows for your eReader for only $3.99! Shop now at Amazon.com or ChristianBook.com.

 

A Q&A with Literary Agent Les Stobbe

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Les Stobbe and Author Kashyap Patel

Les Stobbe and Author Kashyap Patel

Les Stobbe is well known and respected in the Christian book publishing industry. Representing bestsellers to first-time authors, Les knows what it takes to select authors, develop platforms and teach writers how to make their work shine.

Ambassador International is thrilled to have had Les present works to them for consideration for several years now, some of which include Dr. Kayshap Patel, From Raindrops to an Ocean, Grace Fabian, Outrageous Grace, and Paulette George, Good Morning Beautiful.

Although we don’t require a literary agent in order for an author to submit a manuscript to Ambassador, we often get questions about the publishing process and the role of a literary agent. So I asked Les to share some some of his expert insight.

Tim: How did you become a literary agent? 
Les: You’ve heard the saying that “When life gives you a lemon, turn it into lemonade.” I had been with Here’s Life Publishers for 11 years, seven as president when we were sold to Thomas Nelson. So when several writer friends approached me at a conference and asked me to represent them, I agreed. I first represented their books with editors at the 1993 CBA Convention—at which I also interviewed for a position as managing editor of the curriculum division of Scripture Press. For 11 years I worked only part-time as literary agent, though I presented a significant list of book projects to editors at every CBA Convention and at other times of the year.

Tim: What are some of the most notable changes in the industry you’ve seen over the years? 
Les: I recently wrote my website’s home page article on this topic. The most notable change is how books are sold and what that has meant for authors. From 1970, when I got into publishing, until the 1990s, we marketed principally to booksellers and bookstore chains. We considered ourselves the marketers. Gradually the number of bookstores declined and more and more books were moved through distributors. The impersonal nature of that process put the major burden of promoting their books on the author, most of whom had no marketing experience. So when their books did not sell, publishers switched to mostly publishing authors with recognizable names nationwide. That left most first book authors out in the cold—and at the mercy of self-publishing entities. The result has been a lot of books unsold in people’s garages. The e-book revolution is changing that—e-books do not clog garages, while POD (Print on Demand) means there is no inventory at the publisher and authors buy only what they are selling.

Tim: How do you find your writers? 
Les: I can honestly say writers are sent to me by God. His instruments may be recommendation by one of my clients or a book editor, a listing of agents, attendance at a Christian writers’ conference, where I interact with writers to help them get published. Occasionally someone stumbles onto my website, www.stobbeliterary.com. God impressed on me that my ministry focus was first book authors, though occasionally a multi-published author is sent to me by God.

Tim: What do you look for in a first-time writer? 
Les: I have to wear the hat of an editor. In fiction I look for first rate writers who have studied the craft and sharpened their skills by taking distance learning courses, attending Christian writers’ conferences, participating in critique groups. The competition is incredibly fierce for the few open fiction slots in all of Christian publishing. In non-fiction I look for uniqueness in idea and approach, though, like editors I look at what the author’s platform is, what she or he does on social media to build a national reputation. Only too often I still get the message, “Not visible enough.”

Tim: How do you know when the manuscript is ready?
Les: Experience. I began evaluating manuscripts for Kenneth N. Taylor of Living Bible fame in 1961 and became editor of Moody Press in 1970. Just like an experienced coach knows when a player is ready for prime time, I can tell in a page or two whether the writing will make it in today’s market. Then I have to factor in whether they have a national platform or are on social media. I use an experienced fiction reader to help me evaluate novels. I love stories and I too easily get immersed in a plot, failing to notice the absence of technical aspects expected from today’s novels.

Tim: What do you love most about your job?
Les: I love helping writers improve their writing and their presentation. That’s why I participate in eight or nine Christian writers conferences each year—and try to help writers improve proposals far oftener than I ought to. It keeps me at my desk when men my age are playing golf or fishing.

Tim: Anything else you’d like to add? 
Les: My greatest satisfaction is seeing writers I helped get started getting book contract after book contract—and honoring Jesus Christ as they do so. Recently a client stumbled onto my name on page 81 of a book by a bestselling author who claimed I taught him to write. I well remember my meetings with him!

Celebrate National Simplify Your Life Week with Help from Ambassador Authors

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Total Home MakeoverThe first week in August is National Simplify Your Life Week. What better way to celebrate than by clearing the clutter from some area of your life– whether it be your closets or your finances. Two new books from Ambassador International are designed to help you simplify your life.

Declutter Now!: Uncover the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your Life by Lindon and Sherry Gareis: Negative clutter can invade every area of your life—not just your closets. Relationships, finances, kids, jobs, health and spiritual well-being are all adversely impacted by the unnecessary and harmful stuff we accumulate and hold onto. That could be physical junk or emotional baggage. Declutter Now! will help the reader let go of those negative influences that impact our quality of life and our relationship with God. Since decluttering removes what you don’t need and gives you more of what you do, it only makes sense your spiritual journey will benefit too.

Total Home Makeover: A 20-Day Plan to Renew Your Space and Spirit by Renee Metzler: Transform your home with daily and weekly routines, family training, and room-by-room organization. Renee Metzler gave up a full-time career to become a full-time mom and home manager ten years ago. But she quickly realized she had never learned the skills necessary to do this job well. This book is a quick-start manual that will help any home manager do their job with excellence, taking your life from chaos to order. Each day includes prayer, a ten-minute coaching session from Renee and daily to-do list to help you turn your home into a haven.

As a special offer for National Simplify Your Life Week, anyone who orders a copy of Total Home Makeover or Declutter Now! by August 15 will receive a FREE digital copy of the book from iTunes. Simply email your receipt to sales@emeraldhouse.com to take advantage of this offer. To help you jump start your plan, authors Sherry and Renee are answering questions about simplifying life:

1. How have you personally tried to simplify your life recently?delcutter now

Sherry: Interestingly, Declutter Now! is largely responsible for our most recent wave of simplification. Writing a book, and all the elements associated with it, has demanded that we say ‘no’ to some events or commitments that we would have otherwise said yes to. We’ve simplified our schedule to make room for the priorities. Not always easy, or fun, but necessary!

Renee: I have focused on three areas: food, fashion and storage. In terms of food, my husband grows a beautiful kitchen garden each year.  I’m trying to use fresh vegetables daily to create simple and healthy meals. For fashion, I made a New Year’s Resolution to NOT buy any new clothes this year in an effort to avoid a cluttered closet and save money for my children’s Christian school education.  Storage-wise, my chaotic confession is the little red barn at the edge of our property.  It’s adorable from the outside and hideously disorganized from the inside.  It’s my summer organizational project.  To keep me motivated, I’ve planned an End-of-Summer Party for close friends and family.  This dinner party will be hosted in … the little red barn.  Talk about motivation!

2. Why should simplifying our lives be our goal?

Sherry: In Declutter Now! we talk about how ‘less can be more’, and this is much ‘more’ than just a cliché’. Our lives get cluttered with material stuff, unhealthy relationships, draining careers, poor health habits, financial burdens, and the like, leaving little room for the things that matter most. It just makes sense to simplify in order to have the time, money, and energy for the true desires of your heart.

Renee: Simplifying is about making room for what’s really important. We only have a short-time here on earth. We must choose to live for eternity (the spiritual kingdom), not the here-and-now (this physical kingdom). It’s about saying, “No.”  We can choose to turn from the clutter of this world:  material possessions, television, Facebook, chasing after worldly success, money, and status. It’s about saying, “Yes.” We can choose to invest more in the things that are eternal, that will go on living after this physical world passes away.  Things like a relationship with Christ Jesus, speaking words of encouragement and hope to our spouse, playing with and training our children.

3. How can your book help people simplify their lives?

Sherry: We address how to declutter eight different areas of your life by providing practical tips, life application strategies, and engaging stories. We help people gain an awareness of areas that should be decluttered and then encourage them to take action and make it happen! It’s our Declutter & GO! concept!

Renee: Total Home Makeover is a 20 Day Plan to Renew your Space and Spirit.  Each day, you will (1) renew your spirit by seeking the living God through {Prayer, Bible Reading and Journaling}, (2) renew your space in our daily couching session {called Let’s Chat} where you’ll learn one secret to managing your home more efficiently, and (3) apply what you just learned by completing the daily to-do list {called Get Moving}.  Partner up, earn rewards, use worksheets, learn a smarter way to manage your home, and laugh at my stories as you journey from chaos to order for a Total Home Makeover.

Feeling inspired by Renee and Sherry to simplify life? Don’t forget about our special offer just for National Simplify Your Life Week. From now until August 15 anyone who orders Declutter Now! or Total Home Makeover can forward their receipt to sales@emeraldhouse.com to receive a FREE digital copy from iTunes as well.

 

Q&A with Marriage Counselor and Author Stephen Goode

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QA Stephen GoodeAmbassador International is excited to announce the launch of Marriage Triage: A Guide to Healing for the Hurting Spouse, available June 30, 2012 in stores and online at major retailers. Marriage is the norm for Christians with 84% tying the knot according to The Barna Group. But sadly, divorce rates among born again Christians are virtually indistinguishable from non-believers with about 1 in 3 going through a split. While most marriage books are designed to help marriages improve, Marriage Triage: A Guide to Healing for the Hurting Spouse is geared towards spiritual survival for couples in crisis. A former police officer, Stephen Goode tells us what prompted him to write Marriage Triage and why he believes it can save marriages.

Marriage Triage coverWhat led you to write Marriage Triage?

Stephen Goode: I don’t know that I ever really wanted to write a book on marriage. That may seem like a non-sensical way to begin an interview on a marriage book, but you have to realize that after 11 years of police work and being neck-deep in the middle of marital conflict that I was done! I wanted to put that piece of my life in the ground and bury it, but God has a way of making us miserable until we do what he says. I had written blog articles for a number of years and it seemed that the common theme in all the articles always went back to marriage relationships, and I would always interweave old police stories in as illustrations. I received such a positive response that I began to see an opportunity to publish on a bigger platform.

What separates Marriage Triage from other marriage titles?

Stephen Goode: Most marriage books try and give spouses tools to make their marriages better, but there is a window in marriage where it isn’t relevant. They don’t need cute ideas, but survival skills! Marriage Triage is different because it addresses the needs of the hurting, disillusioned spouse in the midst of their crisis with biblical principles, and application. It is a book that helps a spouse stop the bleeding, figuratively speaking, so that healing can begin.

Fighting CoupleWhat did you learn from your time as a police officer that helped you in writing this book?

Stephen Goode: I learned how to dodge frying pans, and not turn my back to an angry and emotional wife. (kidding) Being a police officer I was able to witness firsthand, the emotional devastation and violence that can occur in any marriage that never closes up the wounds of day to day issues. I witnessed everything from simple assaults and threats, to spouses who killed their mates for little more than a quick insurance policy. It was evil in its rawest form. It removed the scales from my eyes of what can occur in a marriage when God’s presence is not acknowledged.

On the other hand police work gave me skills to know how to calm, and diffuse chaotic circumstances between a husband and wife. I also was able to note all the ways couples reached these bad places so that I could begin to reverse-engineer the way to prevent couples from reaching such bad places in their relationship. I was able to take much of this and transform it into a written form, which I hope the readers pick up on as they read the book.

One of your goals is to help spouses avoid the temptation to act irresponsibly and un-Biblically in tough circumstances. Why is that so difficult?

Stephen Goode: Because the Bible clearly says that we battle more than anything against our thoughts and actions. The Apostle Paul even expounded on the fact that many times he did the things he wasn’t supposed to do, and didn’t do the things he knew to do. For a spouse in the middle of a marriage crisis the hardest human action to avoid is making emotional and irrational choices. Hurting and betrayed spouses want to hurt and blame! The problem with this is that the Bible doesn’t condone these types of reactions even though they may be perfectly justified in the eyes of the world. We always want to park on “an eye for an eye” when Jesus gave us an entirely different way to respond. I try and give both husband and wife practical ways to respond to one another.

wedding ring loveIs there a point of no return for marriages?

Stephen Goode: In Marriage Triage the goal is to teach a spouse that no matter what they have done, or whatever has been done to them, that there is a biblical response.

Why do you think divorce rates among Christians and non-Christians are virtually identical?

Stephen Goode: Primarily because spouses tend to use happiness as their measure in the marriage. A friend of mine, Gary Thomas, addresses this in many of his books when he writes “What if marriage wasn’t about our happiness but our holiness.” Spouses don’t want to hear this, but many will leave the relationship the moment pain and disappointment surfaces. This means that they are never refined through the process, but just carry additional baggage into a second marriage. Marriage Triage is the book that helps a spouse endure through the crisis, hopefully to the point they will stay, and endure the pain while learning and growing through the process.

Your book includes a “Quick Start Guide.” What is this and how will it help marriages?

Stephen Goode: The “Quick Start Guide” was added for the spouse who needs quick direction on what they should and should not be doing. When a spouse is hurting and in emotional pain it’s hard to think clearly. I wanted to provide a way for them to get some quick help before starting the journey into chapter one.

One thing to also note is that Marriage Triage was not written to be an exhaustive manual because those reading are not in the frame of mind to read epic novels.

Marriage Triage coverYour Podcast, The Biblical Counseling Moment, was downloaded more than 100,000 times last year. Can you tell us what people can expect to hear if they tune into your Podcast?

Stephen Goode: Dry humor, laughs, and encouragement on the topics of marriage, family, parenting, and responding biblically in emotional circumstances. Our podcasts have received more than 126,000 downloads since 2011, and the topics that seem to attract the most attention are ones related to being a husband and wife.

We even have a live show on blogtalkradio.com that airs on Tuesdays. More information on our podcast can be found at stephengoode.com.

Thanks Stephen! For those interested in learning more you can visit Facebook.com/MarriageTriage or buy the book now!

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