Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Inkblots dude has a BOOK CONTRACT from UK publisher!

INKBLOTS – November 29, 2011
Blustery, cold, wet night—rain pounding on the windows. Feels like we should be writing mysteries set in moldy old castles, with hounds slavering and wailing down below. We talked about why people pierce and tattoo themselves; John concluded, “I guess we all have done dumb things.” The youngest among us, Aaron asked a workmate, “So what’s that going to look like when you’re 70?” Dougie introduced us to his new computer and his challenge converting Works to Word. Pinot Noir… nice, for a pinot. And Dougie Mc has a book contract. Real deal, UK publisher (they like gun-toting hicks from South Kitsap).

John reading 2nd chapter from the end of his contemporary novel on abortion and sanctity of human life. Done lots of work on the chapter but left his flash drive at work… at work? What? John writing at taxpayer’s expense? Read solemn passage, revealing that the kids were adopted by an uncle. Andy as he felt his heart drop at the news: hmm. Is that the best way to convey this? Don’t over write about distrusting parents; maybe go deeper into the head and heart of Emma and her reaction. Good defense of adoption. I was asked to review Rescued, a feature film on adoption done by the Wintons, great folks in California, family bluegrass band, extraordinaire, and filmmakers too. Tilting her head, shaking her head, wiping hand across her forehead, giggles all around—can you deepen these motions? Aaron suggested more violent reaction, a glass knocked over and breaking. You’re right to want to show reaction and emotional response, but dig deeper. More pauses, silent unbelief, go inside head and describe her turmoil at the revelation. Group hug? What? No way? You didn’t really put that in there, did you? Small tear in his left eye, good effort at being specific, but can you show this without using the word tear? “Well, little lady,” he said, giving his best impersonation of John Wayne, then finish the quotation. Very large sum of money—give that scale: She offered me enough money to retire with your mother in Maui—place on the beach, with cash to spare. Try something more like that. 

Now is when we throw off the gloves and hit him. Good plan to connect adoption as a corrective to abortion, but I wonder if you need to show the connection a bit more clearly. Don’t be too overt, but I think the reader needs to see a dawning realization of the connection. If Emma was adopted, is it too much to have Emma’s birth mother to have been planning to abort her. And I didn’t get a real sense, and keep that sense, of place while all this is going: get up and walk to the window, looking out on what and thinking what about it? The cat tries to cuddle up with Emma, gets shoved off her lap, squeaking of the rails of a rocking chair, the sizzling of burning pitch in the wood stove—more of the context, heard, seen, felt. Fly circling overhead, jake brakes from a semi, grumbling along the highway out the window. Give me place and tension as the news settles in.

Dougie next. The bombing of Monte Casino. Getting to know Maria’s family better, after saving them from the lecherous Algerian soldiers. Meets French friend. Abbey south of Rome, bombed by Allies, February, 1944, strategic site, bombed to get Germans out, who weren’t there but moved in soon thereafter. Can you show homesick without saying it: I found myself thinking about my mom, and my dog Adolf, and the one-eyed rooster crowing out back, and the [favorite meal, details]. She’s not such a nice woman after all—does this mean Maria isn’t nice? I wasn’t clear here. I too have used the *** to indicate a break in episode, but I have begun to reassess using them more in recent writing projects. Most of the time when I have used these in the past it was because I wasn’t writing as cohesively as I ought to have been. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for them, but much less often than I used to think. Consider recasting to avoid too many of these. Turn, turn, turn. Why are the soldiers so eager to see the abbey bombed when they know it has no Germans in it? Residual frustration with anything Italian, since they just switched sides a month ago. I don’t see as clearly the actual devastation of the abbey by the bombing. Can you describe it with more structural specifics? How far away are they from the bombing? I had a hard time positioning them in relation to the abbey and the bombing. Can you give them place? And I also didn’t get a sense of the noise and the feel of bombs as they hit. Specific dislocations from the bombing, window breaking, roof tiles falling, or other specifics, including smells, smarting in the eyes, cries of onlookers, wails of women, beating of the breast. 

A bit more turmoil of mind over Maria; she’s a Catholic; he’s a Presbyterian; she’s Italian; he’s American, far from home, lonely, longing for life, progeny, is this real love or just infatuation with a beautiful, dark-eyed woman, smiling down on me, far from home? Have him recollect the ridiculous liaisons that soldiers entered into under the intoxication of war, the putting together of lonely man and attractive woman.

I’m up and reading from recent rapid-fire biography on Augustus Toplady, written for Evangelical Press in UK. Dougie wondered what the purpose of the intro was and if I had not explained clearly that Toplady has been largely misrepresented by history. He also suggested that I bring in a few other cross-references to history beyond British history, more on American colonies, continental Europe, creating a wider appeal to broader cross-section of potential readers. We talked a bit more about the Savonarola book contract with EP, John having been to a number of places related to his life in Florence.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

They won't play with the box! Author-signed books make great gifts

This offer is going fast! Gillian and I hauled armloads of book orders to the post office the other day. We have eleven more Knox books to give away FREE when you buy 3 at
Free shipping on any size book order!
Free study guides with any purchase!
& BUY ANY 3 BOOKS AND GET KNOX FREE! while they last

I'm deeply grateful for how well THE MIGHTY WEAKNESS OF JOHN KNOX has been received by many readers. George Grant who endorsed the book told me in an email that he liked the book so much he reread it after the book was released. He wrote this about it, In the compass of this small volume, Douglas Bond somehow manages to corral all the mysterious paradoxes of John Knox: the thunderous pulpit and the closet intercessions, the soaring intellect and the humble home life, the boldness and the meekness, the might and the weakness. In other words, Bond has captured the very essence of this remarkable model for reformational ministry.”

And for a very limited time only you can get a FREE copy of my Knox biography (Reformation Trust, Ligonier) when you order at least 3 books (free shipping and study guides with a book order of any size). No pressure, but if you want a free copy of Knox (retail $16.40) I would suggest you hurry.

Listen to an audio excerpt or read a sample chapter here. You can also learn more about my forthcoming adult novel on John Knox, THE THUNDER, here.

May you have a blessed Christmas celebration as you honor the King of kings, Jesus the Christ!
Douglas Bond

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pre-Release readings and audio of my forthcoming book on AUGUSTUS TOPLADY

I was so blessed in writing this concise biography of Augustus Toplady. Thank you David Woolin (EP's wear-many-hats dude in the UK) for asking me to do it! Big thanks to the Spear clan for beating up another manuscript for me. Visit my new web page featuring just posted material on my forthcoming book on AUGUSTUS TOPLADY, Debtor to Mercy Alone, to release with Evangelical Press sometime in 2012. After you read the Introduction, listen to an audio excerpt from chapter 4. If you would like to get more of the book, read on below from the chapter that picks up right after the audio.
A Praying Life
 “My God, I want the inwrought prayer,” cried Toplady, “the prayer of the heart, wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost.” So much of the recorded praying of Toplady reflects just that, praying from the lips of a man who is filled with the Holy Spirit, whose prayers are being sanctified by the immediate presence of the God to whom he is praying. Thankfully for us, Toplady developed the habit of copying down his prayers probably as he prayed them. But there is nothing of the pompous Pharisee strutting in prayer to be seen or heard by men. His prayers are the kind of Psalm-like communing with God every Christian desires.
But let’s face it, communing with God, the activity that occupied so much of Toplady’s days and hours, is profoundly foreign to most of us. When we do get around to quieting our hearts and falling to our knees in prayer, one distraction after another begins its assault on our receiving consciousness. A text message warbles in our pocket. The telephone rings, and we strain to recognize the voice leaving a message. The computer intones the audio signal that a new email has just arrived. We wonder who it’s from. An aid vehicle roars by, siren blaring. A sleepy child crawls onto our back for a cuddle. The hotpot clicks off and we begin hastily rifling out our petitions so as to get the tea steeping while the water is at its hottest. Tea is always better when the water is at its hottest.
If me manage to negotiate the minefield of information technology and toddlers, and we actually get around to praying for real needs, we may find ourselves—often long minutes later—musing on how those parents could have let their son or daughter get involved with the wrong crowd in the first place. Clearly they messed up. If only they had raised their children the way we have raised ours. And when we finally shake our self free of those thoughts, and return shamefaced again to confession and asking for still more forgiveness, there’s the particular problem men have with praying. We men think we can take care of things, solve the problem. We don’t like stopping and asking for help. We can handle this. We’re men. It’s what we do.
When we attempt to get down to the serious business of praying, at best we are too hasty, and at worst we may actually be taking the Lord’s name in vain and compounding our sinning. It is for these reasons that Toplady’s praying is so valuable for distracted moderns. Though many of our 21st century distractions would have been completely foreign to Toplady, we should not fool ourselves. He was a man subject to many of the same challenges we face with prayer. “Was afflicted with wandering in private prayer. Lord, melt down my icy heart, and grant me to wait upon thee.” How often would Toplady’s confession not be an accurate description of our praying life? And like you and me, this would not be the last time he would have reason to long for greater constancy in prayer. In a diary entry dated Monday, December 14, 1767, he reminds us that neglecting prayer has direct consequences:   
Before I came out of my chamber today, I was too hasty and short in private prayer. My conscience told me so at the time; and yet, such was my ingratitude and my folly, that I nevertheless restrained prayer before God. In the course of the day, I had great reason to repent of my first sin, by being permitted to fall into another.
It is just, O Lord, that thou shouldest withdraw thy presence from one who waited so carelessly on thee. May I never more, on any pretext whatever, rob thee (or rather, deprive my own soul) of thy due worship; but make all things else give way to communion with thee!
In a culture destroying itself with the cult of self-esteem, Toplady often prayed in a way that sounds foreign to our ears:
Who am I, O Lord? The weakest and vilest of all thy called ones: not only the least of saints, but the chiefest of sinners. But though a sinner, yet sanctified, in part, by the Holy Ghost given unto me. I should wrong the work of His grace upon my heart, were I to deny my regeneration: but, Lord, I wish for a nearer conformity to thy image.
So unaccustomed are we to hearing someone speak of himself as “the weakest and vilest of all thy called ones,” we might be tempted to dismiss Toplady’s self-deprecation as false humility, an elaborate charade.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SPECIAL INKBLOTS with Marketing Director, Ian Thompson

Not Ian--his classmate, Robert Browning
Inkblots –November 19, 2011
Special evening with Marketing Director of P&R Publishing, Ian Thompson. Only 3 years living in the USA. Formerly with Christian Focus in Scotland. Delighted to have him with us tonight. A good gang of folks this evening; good food, good wine (CA old vine Zin, and a nice port).

[thanks Doug McComas for doing the bulk of the blogging tonight] Started with an introduction to inkblots for our guest. Schrupp got here late—sheesh! Ian’s degree is in geophysics from London University—where Robert Browning and Olivier Goldsmith studied (slightly before Ian’s time). Ian first applied for a job with Inter-Varsity Press (IVP) who turned him down. Ran a Christian newspaper in London.  English-Churchman and Saint James Chronicle.  The oldest newspaper in the world, est. 1701.  The paper went into decline with the Church of England.

How did the Spirit bring you to a living faith in Christ? Through cross-country team coached by a Christian.  Through affiliation with John Stott and All Souls, London.   Attended a youth group ran by a Christian teacher at school.  Independent Baptist church. After awhile he found himself arguing for Christianity instead of against it.  A slow conversion, not a sudden event.
When Ian was a student in British schools he was daily subject to an act of Christian worship.  He began to wonder why the words of hymns were not given much attention.   Brought about a familiarity with hymnology for his generation that has since been lost. After refusal by IVP, most of his early career was spent doing HVAC and security system design.

Started in marketing by writing the British vocation standards on marketing.  Worked with Palmolive and Colgate as a marketing consultant. Family life: Did sales desk work across from his future sister in-law who introduced him to her “religious sister.” Married Heather 18 months later.  26 years ago. Now living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania near Phillipsburg, New Jersey, P&R’s HQ. How did he get to marketing: Trans-world, penguin, Harper-Collins – he originally trained sales team form these organizations.

A church elder asked him one day if he could move to northern Scotland to work for Christian Focus.  After a 1-1/2 hour telcon he agreed to work there after a visit. Worked for Christian Focus for 13 years than came to America to work for P & R, three years ago. America sells 95% of their books in country so they don’t need foreign sales, whereas English religious publishers must have the American market to survive. P&R was founded in 1930 by the OPC (G Gresham Machen and Samuel Craig).

 Christian Focus was started by 4 brothers who were trying to find a good Christmas book for their children.  Published it after much research. Christian Focus is mainly Children’s books that don’t include pictures of Christ. How did Banner of Truth Trust come into play? Until the 1950’s there was a lull in Reformed books and when an interest came up, Martin Lloyd Jones and company filled the gap. Joke is Banner of Truth only publishes dead people until more recently.

Digital links in the new e-books is big.  Going to a map on line, etc. E-books are killing the hardbacks.  Many people don’t want hardbacks anymore so their prices are going up. Publishers want a paper book format, thanks to Gutenberg, but a publisher’s role is to distribute intellectual content to the reader.  The digital format lowers cost, but not all costs because many costs like overhead and marketing, etc remain the same.  It will lower it but not much.

Audio books (expensive to make due to hiring the voice- need a large audience) are a growing part of the market along with Christian books but they are still a small part of the market (Allison Krause is singing too loud so Doug gets up and turns her down). Costs can vary for publishing (Drinking a 2002 Grand-Cru). $25,000 minimum to market a Christian book. Talked prices for full print ads.  $3860 for Reformation Trust’s ad of Doug’s new Knox book inside front cover of World, Ian estimated. When you are writing you are writing for the potential writer not for your existing reader. Bond’s P&R titles have sold over 150,000; then he hesitated and said it may be more than that.
First print runs don’t make any money, generally.  The publisher makes money on the second print run. Selling through the retail trade ½ the price is gobbled up getting book to market. Christian publishing company must give constant thought to ministry in what they publish. A print run of as small as 2,500 can be done.  Small runs are the norm. Non-fiction usually has a more focused audience which is easier to market.  Fiction marketing must be more scattered. Tim Challies blog on marketing stuff?  If you can get on his blog that’s a good thing. How about marketing your own book: Named people endorsing your name.  Church history-endorsed by a church historian. Active in literary events.  Applicable to the work you do. Developing your own following. 

How active are you in sales.  How long is your reach?  Book signings can be humbling.  Signing session at your local bookstore.  50 is a success. Secular book stores are often better for book signings then Christian bookstores because of numbers coming in. Word of mouth is a big quality. Quality of the writing is key.  Storyline and grammar go hand-in-hand.

Literary agents are lepers.  Very useful for filtering.  1 per 600 for unsolicited manuscripts are taken.    Like a literary agent.  Can be some marketing challenges.  Can increase costs.  They are tolerated.  About 15%  of publications come through agents.  Usually results in big advances. Publishers first have workers filters out the crazies (real example: a book proposal on Calvin explained through the eyes of a goldfish) or very small audiences.  E-publishing may change this.  Worthy but dulls are filtered out next. 
Book title life spans:  statistics are looked on after 3 months (when an author gets the ominous phone call from the publisher asking if he would like to buy the remainder of the print run? means disaster). By 2015 E-books will eliminate warehousing.

Ian was asked about authors he liked reading: Douglas Adams a good read for improving your writing. He writes concepts that others could not do. Plays with negatives: hovers in precisely the same way that a brick doesn’t. Jan Karon is a good read for stylistic writing. Ian has not seen her bettered. Hunger Game books. Hasn’t read them. But everyone is recommending them at his church. First-person, and clean. Does P&R have holes in what it publishes? Always have holes. When you fill a hole in a series, it matters less that an individual writer is credentialed and well known, since the series is already established. P&R gets submissions for lots of doctrinal theological works because seminary professors need to “publish or perish.” Ian gets taken to lunch and schmoozed by theologians and professors all the time. So author is supposed to buy Ian lunch? Nobody told me? What gives? How illuminating! What they really are not looking for? No poetry please!  

Lots of good unpacking and chatting about all that Ian had to share with us about the publishing industry today. Super helpful and a blessing to get to know you. Thanks so much for your time tonight. What a treat!

Friday, November 18, 2011

NEW HYMN! Sung by Judy Rogers, written by Douglas Bond

Click to listen to my New Reformation Hymn, WE RISE AND WORSHIP, sung by Judy Rogers and produced by Mitch Nutt. I am honored that Judy Rogers (known to so many for her wonderful children's music) has put her marvelous musical talent to work on one of my hymns. This is a fresh-cut musical rendition of the hymn I wrote in 2007. Judy collaborated with composer Mitch Nutt (more about both of them below).    

Judy Rogers is an Independent Christian Music singer-songwriter. Since 1986 when her debut album Why Can't I See God? was released, Judy has been writing songs and performing concerts and musical programs for churches, camps, homeschool groups, women's/youth/family retreats, and other events from New England to California, Michigan to Florida and Texas, from Canada to England. 

Children and parents alike have enjoyed learning Biblical truths through her songs that cover the major teachings of the Bible (Based on the Westminster Children's and Shorter Catechisms). Filled with songs that are distinctively biblical, thought provoking, and melodically addicting, Judy's concerts are sure to lift your spirits. We invite you to find out more about Judy and listen to her music as you visit her website.

Mitch Nutt is an inde­pen­dent com­poser striv­ing to reclaim the sphere of music for our Lord Jesus Christ. Upon grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, Mitch cre­ated a home stu­dio (this is a good one: he calls it Nutt House Music--love it!) in hopes of ben­e­fiting Chris­t­ian busi­nesses and film­mak­ers nation­wide. Thus far, the Lord has gra­ciously granted him the oppor­tu­nity to score the doc­u­men­tary “IndoctriNation.”

Mitch has authored/edited a collection of Reformation hymns with new musical settings he composed for classic hymns by Horatius Bonar (one of my all-time favorite hymn writers) and others. You can learn more about him and his work at: