Sunday, April 19, 2020

ABC Post 7--WAWC, the Wedding, the Bathroom, & Such. Also I Need Your Advice.

Updates and Footnotes:

1. Remember WAWC, last year's Western Anabaptist Writing Conference? We had decided not to plan a similar event for 2020 because of our son's wedding. Now we're so glad we aren't trying to make projections about group meetings and travel in August.

However: we would like to plan another conference for 2021, in either June or August. Please comment if you have preferences.

Also, please plan to attend. 

2. Have you been keeping up with the other April Blogging Challenge posts on my daughter Emily's blog? If not, you should. The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots. Just to pique your interest, her latest post was Why Guys Should Stop Talking to a Girl's Dad Before They Ask Her Out.

3. Emily also has a Patreon page where she posts on more personal/controversial subjects. You have to pay a bit to see those, which not only helps her writing pay for itself, it also helps to weed out the trolls and stalkers.

4. Here are a few more Sparrow Nest details that you might have wondered about if you're planning your own cabin:
     a. Internet. We had tried to get our Alyrica internet to project its gamma rays out to the cabin, but that didn't work, so mostly I took my Iphone out with me and set up the hotspot. It wasn't ideal, by far, but it reduced the temptation to waste time browsing online. Recently, Paul had an extra device that's a hotspot all on its own [not a phone], which he wasn't using. So that's now out in the cabin and it works fine. A little too fine, sometimes, threatening to become a Distraction.
     b. We had originally planned to put a little wood stove in the cabin for heat but went with propane because the logistics are so much more complicated with wood. [Chimney, safety, hauling wood, starting fires, etc.] But I still think wood heat would be awfully cozy.

5. The three winners of the Spice Thyme cookbook were:
   a. Ellie on the blog

   b. Anita Eshleman on facebook.
   c. Martha Knepp on Instagram.
The response was enthusiastic and the number of commenters blew me away. Thank you to everyone who tossed their name in the hat. If you didn't win, please think about investing in a copy of your own or taking a page from my friend Simone's book and telling someone to get it for your birthday.

Here's the ordering information again.  $25.99 per book USA, or $31.99 in Canada.

USA retail customer special: Order one book for $5 shipping, two for $3, or three or more for FREE shipping! Bulk discounts are also available. Offer expires May 15, 2020. Please mention where you saw this ad to receive your discount.
Canadian retail customer special: Order one book for $15 shipping, two for $10, three for $5, four or more for FREE shipping! Offer expires May 15, 2020. Please mention where you saw this ad to receive your discount.

Distributor Offer: 60% off whole cases
Wholesale Store Offer: 40% off whole cases
10 books per case

USA Contact:
Angela Amstutz
15 Bromley RD
Huntington, MA 01050

Canadian Contact:
Aneta Wiebe
Box 162
Eden, Manitoba R0J0M0

6. The wedding: Matt and Phoebe assure me that there definitely will be a wedding. They're just not entirely sure when and where and how. I admit I have migrated from "Ooooooh, you guys, please have a big splash of a wedding with hundreds of people because we've waited so long for this!" to "Let's just get you guys married, one way or another."

Covid-19 is changing us in subtle ways.

7. The bathroom. The remodeling project has been delayed until the virus is over, so we still have our exhausted bathroom. But if we won't have a boatload of wedding guests filling the house, will it really matter if the bathroom project isn't done by June?

The commode still flushes and the shower still sprays. We are grateful for this.

And finally:
8. This section is for all of you who are in some stage of the writing and publishing process, whether it's starting a newsletter for your organization, helping your mom write her life story, writing a Bible study, putting your sermons into a book, or writing a novel.

I need your input.

I get a lot of messages similar to this one from a lady named Esther Zeiset--[quoted with permission]--

I'm wrapping up a 3-years-long project of writing about my husband's 33-year career in prison chaplaincy, and just when I started getting serious about the publication process, COVID-19 hit. It's an 80,000 word manuscript which I'm editing for the umpteenth time, with special attention (this time) to comma usage rules. i guess I've lost some steam for the project - who in the world will have the interest or the money for such a book after all this distraction and turmoil?? Advice? I almost hate to ask 

Last year I wrote a series of blog posts on How to Write and Publish. Right now I'm expanding them, with plans to self-publish into some sort of textbook/workbook.

However. I've never done anything quite like this, and I need advice on which format will be the most useful for you, Esther Zeiset and the rest of you who feel an urge to write and publish but don't know how to go about it.

I'm imagining who this might be: maybe Victoria from the counseling course who had an idea for a children's book. Homeschool moms who might want each high schooler to work through it. Writers like my friend Darlene who self-published their mom's life story but also write poetry.

My question isn't about the content but about the sort of book format and binding that would be most useful.

I plan to include a lot of my own expounding and yammering, but I also want to have plenty of supplementary questions to guide you through your own projects. Of course you'll need to write down the answers to those questions.

Here are some options. If you are in the market for this kind of help, please comment and tell me which format you'd like.

Or if you have a better idea, share that too.

Option A.  All the content would be in a paperback book. You would write your answers in the book, in the spaces provided.
Advantage: Everything under one roof.

Disadvantage: Not so suitable for planning multiple projects.
Option B. All the content would be in a paperback book. There would be questions for you to answer, but NO space to write in the book. You would write your answers in your own separate notebook that you picked up at Walmart for 15 cents in the back-to-school sale.
Advantages: You could use one textbook to plan as many projects as you wanted.
Disadvantages: an extra notebook to keep track of.

Option C. Everything [text and questions and space to write] would all be under one cover, as per Option A, but it would all be SPIRAL BOUND.
Advantage: easier to use.
Disadvantage: extra cost. Parallel creases on the fleshy side of your hand.
Option D. The text and all my pontificating would be in a paperback book, then you would buy a separate little stapled companion workbook to fill out the answers for your own project.
Advantages: more versatile for multiple projects and people. Cost savings of one textbook and multiple little workbooks as needed.
Disadvantages:more botheration; more to keep track of. 

E. The final option: the how-to chapters and fill-in-the-blank pages would all be together on a stack of 8 1/2 x 11 looseleaf paper that you would insert into your own ringbinder notebook.
Advantages: cost savings. Easier to keep/use only what applied to your project. Easier to include with other English projects for students.
Disadvantages: sudden gusts of wind if the papers weren't secure. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Note: The Content in the above illustrations will not appear in the actual book and is not intended to be a substitute for professional writing advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your publisher or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding writing or publication.


  1. My first thought was that any workbook is way easier to deal with in spiral bound or binder form. Regular books are great for reading. But for flipping back and forth or for keeping your place while writing notes, having a flat surface that doesn't require holding to keep your place is ideal

  2. Books for reading are Best in the format you have always done. Work books however should pay flat. Binding would depend on how thick the book is. Blank spaces- if they want to reuse the book they can get a separate notebook. Just my opinion...

  3. I vote for Option B. Please include advice on how to snag those super-specials at Walmart!

    1. Shop during those back-to-school specials that happen far too early in the summer. Often the notebooks are 9-for-a-dollar or something like that.

  4. Darlene Miller4/20/2020 5:46 AM

    I think B makes a lot of sense, but you might want to combine Options B and C, because what Simone said is true. And if you wouldn’t put space for answers in the book, then you don’t need to worry about those parallel lines in the fleshy part of the hand. �� But I guess I would need to know just how much more expensive the spiral bound books are before I could have any idea whether the extra cost will be justified in the minds of your potential customers.

  5. This comment won't be exactly what you were soliciting in your post... But I feel I need to say this: I'm concerned that you might be planning travel and group meetings for August. Much as we hate for this COVID 19 thing to hang on and on, no one knows when it might be "safe" to resume travel and/or life beyond social distancing. The most believable forecast I have seen to date has us possibly resuming activities like shopping, eating out in restaurants and maybe small gatherings of people...IF the virus takes a seasonal "break" for the summer. But no large gatherings--concerts, sports games, festivals, etc.--until there is a reliable vaccine or treatment for COVID. Just...please take care of yourself!

    1. I think you missed something.
      I said, "We had decided not to plan a similar event for 2020 because of our son's wedding. Now we're so glad we aren't trying to make projections about group meetings and travel in August.
      However: we would like to plan another conference for 2021, in either June or August."

    2. Duh. Guess being home so much has dulled my reading comprehension. Well, anyway...I'm glad you are staying safe. Pardon my gaffe... :P

  6. I vote for option B. We are writers, notebooks are my favorite tool!

  7. My two cents would be if you're writing for Type B's like myself, I'd go with option A. Options B, D, and E have parts to go missing, and the spiral binding of C makes it look less serious and maybe wouldn't discourage messy writing as much as it could. Books are a bit difficult to write in and the space is limited, but I find that makes me stop and really think before I write. People can add their own notebooks to any of the options.

    About weddings, a couple near us did a drive-in (not drive-thru) wedding. The wedding was just outside a gazebo in a circular park with parking spots all around. The bride wore her dress and the bride and groom each had an attendant who stood in the usual (distant) spots. They had good loudspeakers for the ceremony and everybody honked when they kissed.

  8. I would likely purchase B, D, or E in a heartbeat.

  9. Option D all the way! Most versatile! For example, I am an editor who would be interested to read your wisdom but not necessarily writing my own project to publish. I do have clients who ask for resources, so they could use the workbook or not with the book as they desire.

  10. I vote for E. It's the most versatile, and the most economical. You could even sell tab divider sheets with the pack. If the pages are numbered, gusts of wind probably won't be disastrous as long as the project isn't out on a picnic table or somewhere that the pages would actually blow away. However, this format might tempt people to break copyright restrictions by photo copying pages. LRM

  11. I like D because you can buy the little workbook if you want, but you can also just buy the paperback. Options are nice.

  12. I, too, (a freelance writer/editor) vote for option D. Though I enjoy reading books on the craft, I detest exercises. I wish that more authors/publishers would separate the textbook from the study guide; that way I could buy the one I really want, saving some money besides. I tend to feel disappointed when I buy a book and later learn that half of it contains questions I will likely ignore.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It's helpful!

  13. I would totally pick B. I despise writing the answers in a book because then I can't share it with others. I have oodles of notebooks for this purpose. I love flipping through my notebooks and seeing notes from various books I've read and projects I've worked on.

  14. I vote C. Spiral bound will be nice in that you don't have to hold your pages open.

  15. I bet Henry would be happy to come out and get you Alyrica in the Sparrow's Nest. :)