Bonnie S. Calhoun is
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
Introducing Mary DeMuth and The Writing Spa
This month I'd like to introduce you to Mary DeMuth. I met her at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where we are both faculty members!
For ten years throughout my twenties and early thirties, I wrote in obscurity, occasionally sharing my stories and articles with friends and family. I self-published a newsletter about homemaking during that time, and enjoyed positive feedback. But during those ten years of diapering and mommying, I had nagging questions: Was I good enough? Was writing a calling from God, or was I delusional? And with so many sleepless nights, delusion hit close to home.
When my youngest daughter, Julia, started preschool in 2000, I dusted off my publishing dream and got serious. I looked for mentors. I joined a critique group. I started submitting terribly written queries, or no queries at all—sending in articles willy-nilly to big name magazines, who, in turn, sent me over-copied generic “We regret to inform you” rejections. I became a local newspaper columnist. I wrote my first novel.
It wasn’t until I met my dear friend Sandra Glahn that I finally felt like maybe this publishing dream was God’s. She is a professor at Dallas Seminary, a published nonfiction book author and novelist. And she’s an eloquent speaker with an amazing heart.
But back then we were simply forging a friendship.
She agreed to look at my short stories and articles. Her comments to me were:
1. Kill your adjectives and adverbs.
I relished number three and worked hard at tackling numbers one and two. Sandra’s confidence in me proved to be the both catalyst and genesis of my writing career. At one point, I nearly quit after receiving a scathing, mean-spirited critique, but Sandra helped me. I doubt I’d be published today had it not been for her.
Soon after, I met my agent and sold two books. I followed Sandra’s lead, mentoring writers on the journey who were just behind me—writing their first queries and finishing their first manuscripts and proposals. I spent the last six years giving back, coaching writers for free while meeting my own book deadlines. Unfortunately, all this volunteer mentoring siphoned away my time. I realized this about the same moment I finally understood that very few authors actually make a living from writing. And yet, I needed to.
The past two years transitioning back to life in America (We’d been church planters in France) has been financially difficult for our family. I spent a lot of time marketing my books, writing and editing my novel series with Zondervan (first book Daisy Chain), and mentoring writers for free. One way I lessened the strain of too much work was to start http://www.wannabepublished.blogspot.com, where I mentored writers through daily little articles. I also took up ownership of The Writers View (http://www.yahoogroups.com/thewritersview and http://www.yahoogroups.com/twv2).
But this summer, I knew I’d have to cut way back on my mentoring and find a paying job. I taught at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in August and had several writers approach me, saying things like, “Would you coach me? I will pay for it.” Then I realized God was morphing my passion to help writers with our need for me to make a more steady income. And voila! The Writing Spa (http://www.thewritingspa.com) was born.
I long for The Writing Spa to be a virtual place where writers are challenged to grow deeply and widely in the craft, where they’ll better understand the rigors of the publishing journey, and come away with a better piece of writing than they had when they first came through the doors. I pray folks will be encouraged and, Lord willing, published.
(Since my twelve-year-old , Aidan, is trying hard to provide a well for a small community in Africa (Watch the You Tube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0yBQzW9mVc), 10 percent of The Writing Spa proceeds goes toward funding his project.)
So if you feel stuck, you don’t understand why you continue to get rejections, or you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong with your manuscript, head over to The Writing Spa. Since I write both fiction and nonfiction and have expertise in crafting proposals that get noticed, I offer several different packages to choose from. I’m thrilled to be able to partner with authors, mentoring through book projects and career choices.
In a way, I’m like an agent before an author secures an agent. I help ready projects for an agent’s consideration. Because, after all, you have only one chance to create a first impression. My desire is to make your first impression a memorable one.
Contact information: maryedemuth
Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow. Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).
Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching the Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006). Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries.
Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.