author of the nonfiction christian, Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert as she virtually tours the blogosphere in May on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!
Behold Your Mother Synopsis:
Have you ever wondered why Catholics are “wild about Mary”? Do you find it easy to accept Church teachings about Mary … but find it hard to get close to the woman behind the dogma? Do you wonder what it would have been like to live next door to the Holy Family? Or why some people pray to a women who lived two thousand years ago … and get their prayers answered? Most importantly, how is the veneration Catholics give to Mary different from the worship that belongs to God alone?
In Behold Your Mother, someone who has lived on both sides of the Christian “ecclesial divide” explores these issues as well as others, and explains how she came to understand Mary’s spiritual motherhood after becoming an adoptive mother herself. She draws from her own experiences as well as images from Scripture to paint a memorable portrait of the Woman closest to Jesus Christ. And she explains how all true devotion to Mary only leads us closer to her Son.
Melanie Rigney, former editor of Writer’s Digest, says this is “…a charmingly readable book that belongs on the shelf of every Catholic, be he or she cradle, revert or convert.”
Welcome to Paperback Writer.
Would you share with us how you came up with the idea for your book?
Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert has actually been published in two editions, first in 2001 and again in 2008. I was asked to write the first edition by Jim Manney at Loyola Press while I was senior editor at Servant Publications, an ecumenical book publisher that has since been acquired by St. Anthony Messenger Press. We knew each other professionally, and he thought that others might like to hear my story.
This book is the fruit of several years of study, which I undertook while deciding whether to become Catholic. I finally did, in 1994, after thirty years in various Christian denominations. At the time one of my greatest hesitations about joining was what the Church teaches about Jesus’ mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. (This is a common problem for many converting from other Christian traditions such as Baptist or Methodist.) So, I began to take a closer look at what – and why – Catholics believe what they do, and why they are so “wild about Mary.” Behold Your Mother is the result of that study.
Was it a light bulb moment or something that you thought about for a very long time?
The “light bulb” came on gradually, over the course of several years. In the beginning, I studied Church history to see what the early Christians thought about Mary, and decided to accept what the Church has always taught about her on that basis – but I didn’t actually want to form a real relationship with her myself. This began to change a few years later, when a romantic detachment and an unexpected gift led me to think of Mary as someone who cares about me personally (this story is in Behold Your Mother). The final insight came to me when I became an adoptive mother myself, and began to understand the dynamics of an adopted family. Gradually, I came to think of Mary as my adopted mother in heaven.
How did you come up with the title?
Behold Your Mother is based on the passage in John 19, where Christ entrusted Mary to the “beloved disciple” (likely John, but in a certain sense to all of us). The subtitle is simply a description of what the book contains: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert.
How did you find an agent and publisher?
As I said, for the first edition of the book (at that time it was called With Mary in Prayer) the editor approached me – we knew each other professionally. I didn’t have – still don’t have – an agent simply because they aren’t widely used in this segment of the publishing industry. I chose to use Bezalel Books (a Catholic POD-traditional publishing hybrid) after meeting the publisher, Cheryl Dickow, in connection with a women’s conference at which we were both to be presenting in April 2008. So far the experience has been a very good one.
Who reads your work in progress?
I tried to get feedback from a variety of readers – Catholic ones, but also Christians from other traditions. My sister, a Baptist, said she stayed up all night reading it (at 70 pages it wasn’t hard to do), and commented, “Well, I now understand why you love Mary so much. I’m not there yet … but I can certainly understand why you are.”
Who made a difference in the book’s quality?
The biggest contributors (though at six and eight they aren’t old enough to appreciate this yet) are my children. Seeing the world through their eyes has helped me to understand so much about the nature of family relationships, both physical and spiritual ones. To be honest, I liked the first book’s cover more than the second one … but the contents of the second edition are greatly improved simply because of that lived-out experience.
How long did it take you to complete the first draft?
Six weeks, once I started writing, to complete the first edition. Two weeks, once I started writing, to complete the second.
How long did it take from start to publication?
From the time I submitted the manuscript until I held the book in my hands took about four weeks. That’s one of the great advantages of POD over traditional publishing. Four weeks from the time I sent in the book until it was available for purchase at Amazon.com and on my website: http://www.christianword.com.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I just finished an interview with Bert Ghezzi, Senior Acquisitions Editor of Word Among Us Press with more than thirty-five years in the publishing industry, on this very subject. The bad news is that it is becoming more and more difficult to break into publishing because publishers have to rely increasingly on the author’s “platform” in order to market themselves and their books. Consequently, it is often the most visible writers – rather than the best writers – who are getting the contracts.
The good news is that with the Internet, authors have more options in terms of building that author’s platform. Blogs are one important way to build a following; online columns and podcasts present other great opportunities. My best advice is to go out and write! Attend those conferences, network online and in person at every opportunity. But above all, you have to put yourself out there, getting your ideas and thoughts out where others can see them, if you want to succeed as a writer.
For example, when Behold Your Mother came out I immediately developed a “Mary blog” by the same title as the book: http://beholdyourmotherbook.blogspot.com. I use that site to promote the book, such as the special Mother’s Day offer that is online now. But I continue adding content and links from other Mary-oriented sites to drive the traffic back to the blog and boost sales. That’s not enough, by itself, to sell thousands of copies for most authors. But every little bit helps. During the first month of publication of Behold Your Mother, I sold through my website enough books to represent almost 10% of the total book sales from the first edition, largely because of my improved author platform: I have a regular column at CatholicMom.com and CatholicExchange.com. While I don’t get paid for the actual articles, the exposure is invaluable!
Thank you, Heidi for stopping by Paperback Writer on your virtual book tour. I wish you continued success through the rest of you tour.
Thanks for having me!