How to Find Hope in a Published Book

With the release of “Final Grace for Reverend G,” the trilogy is complete. The gutsy little minister has challenged us to find hope even within the plaque-infested world of Alzheimer’s Disease.Rev G 3 Cover

On the eve of the release, I sat in my office and looked at the three books on my dream shelf. “The Unraveling of Reverend G,” acquired by Pamela Sonnenmoser for CrossRiver Media, not long before she graduated to heaven. The book that surprised even me, because I didn’t think I could write fiction.

Intermission for Reverend G” followed with its characterization of Alzheimer’s and a culmination of a romance between Reverend G and her soulmate, Chris. Another surprise for me because I don’t read romance. I still have no idea how that plot line happened and what made it so successful with my readers. Maybe because the characters were older and the idea of a romance with an Alzheimer’s patient was just flukey enough to be wonderful.

Final Grace for Reverend G” ended the trilogy and hopefully – it will become a best-seller with my readers, reminding us all that hope is eternal and God has a good plan for our lives – even when we face a serious disease.

As I looked at the books and realized the release date had arrived, I wondered – why am I not more excited? I didn’t even feel like celebrating with a bowl of Chunky Monkey ice cream or a slice of cheesecake with blueberries on top.

Was it because I missed Reverend G and the end of the series meant I had to finally let her go?

The publishing of a book is still a big deal to me. Even though I’ve been published before, these were my first novels. This story was real, because it mirrored what my family is going through with Mom. But it’s not the final release that is exciting, or the marketing and promotional activities.

It’s something else.

The achievement of writing and finding a publisher for three books is also a big deal. It marks another goal in my writing career, the answer to many prayers and the culmination of a dream. Seeing my books on library shelves and signing my name on the title page of each book during speaking events or booksignings – I still get chills up and down my arms.

But that doesn’t bring the most excitement.

What really does it for me is when I hear from readers, “Your books gave me ideas for how to deal with my dad. He has dementia, and we just didn’t know what to do.”

Or the CNA who shared the books with her colleagues, hoping they could all learn some new techniques for dealing with patients in assisted living.

The reader in Kansas who buys my books for her friend in Indiana, so she’ll have something encouraging to read as she watches her husband fade away in the last stages of Alzheimer’s.

Or the readers who emailed me, “I didn’t know we could pray so honestly to God. Reverend G taught us that it’s okay to cry out, ‘I can’t stand this.’”

When my readers learn something from the story, when they feel encouraged in their difficult journeys, when they find some hope, when they hear from God through the words he breathed through me – that’s exciting.

The end result of all the hours of writing, editing, revising, and doing it all over again to make it the best it can be is when all that perseverance pays off.

The excitement generates when people read my books and then buy them for someone else – to help another family dealing with the disease.

That’s when I know it was all worth it. And that’s when I’m encouraged to write another book, another blog post or another article so that this writer can somehow make a difference.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books

Liking My Words

As I started editing the third and final book in the Reverend G series, I wanted to be as objective as possible. Besides the work I do as a Life Coach and an Author – I am also an Editor. I know how to proofread for grammar mistakes, punctuation errors and content miscues.

Even with my own writing, I’m ruthless with edits. It doesn’t kill me to delete whole sections – even an entire chapter, if it doesn’t carry the story forward.3D Rev G cover

In fact, I often rewrite the entire manuscript seven or eight – even twelve times, striving for that best word, that a-ha moment and that paragraph that carries an internal truth.

But when I started editing this book, with my red pen in hand, I worked several minutes before I made any marks. I looked for mistakes, knowing that even the most careful writers make them. And yes, I found a couple of typos, but nothing glared at me that needed to be rewritten.

In fact, I quickly found myself immersed in the story of this woman minister as I walked with her into the world of expressive aphasia. I felt the intense struggle of Reverend G who wants more than anything else in the world to communicate God’s love to others, yet she has lost the ability to string common sense words together into intelligent sentences.

This is the world of many Alzheimer’s patients as they grow increasingly frustrated with their inability to communicate.

But for Reverend G, it seems worse. This was a woman who thrived on the ministry of words – the sermons she wrote and delivered, the counseling sessions where she asked open-ended questions and the love notes she left her son, Jacob, and later – the love of her life, Chris.

Fortunately, for me – the writer – I have written this series in the deep viewpoint so I can escape into the mind of Reverend G and know what she is thinking even if she cannot fully express it.

So I read her thoughts – my words – with awe and wonder, is it okay to really like my own writing? Is it helpful for a creative writer to enjoy the cadence of her own voice? Is it all right for a Christian writer to read a paragraph and then say, “Dang! That’s good!”

Maybe I like my words because I really do love this character, this Reverend G who wears leather pants and refuses to be stereotyped within the legalistic jargon of religion. Maybe I appreciate my words because I know how many hours I have put into this series and what it has meant to me when people read my books and compliment me.

And maybe – after over 40 years of freelancing – I’m finally settling on my real voice and becoming the writer God created me to be.

Whatever the reason, I’m liking this book and as much as I enjoyed Book One, I really think Book Two is even stronger and I believe Book Three will be the perfect ending for Reverend G’s story.

So I’ll include a couple of paragraphs here and let you be the judge. Do you like it, too? Are you looking forward to finding out more?

Oh God, my God, why did it have to be words? These were the tools of my profession, the way I communicated with my God, my people and my particular world. The sermons I wrote and then preached behind the special pulpit designed for me, the open-ended questions I devised for counseling sessions, the Bible verses I quoted so easily to bring hope and encouragement to my congregation.

“All these pieces of ministry included words which gave me effective ammunition to further the kingdom of God. Like an important piece of machinery tuned to the Gospel, I found my significance in words. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Holy Word lived within my words.”

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” –

Finding Hope on the Dream Shelf

When I first started freelancing, I wanted to set an attainable goal – something I could work for beyond the publishing credits and the paychecks.

So I cleared off the top shelf of one of my bookcases and created a dream shelf. It was my goal – my dream to fill that shelf with my books and have a tangible reminder of encouragement.Dream Shelf

Freelancers must possess persistence because success comes slowly and is papered with many rejections. We hone our craft, learn and grow while working several jobs to survive and trying to find as many writing gigs as possible.

Gradually, I began to fill a notebook with copies of my printed articles. Then – one by one – my words were accepted in anthologies: Chicken Soup books, Cup of Comfort books, Guideposts prayer books and others.

After several years, I also became an editor so I included those books next to mine. They represented a collaboration with writers – a joint effort to birth a finished product we could both be proud of.

Now, after 40+ years of freelancing, my dream shelf is full, and I am expanding to a new dream shelf.

The new one does not stand in my office, but it represents the hard work, persistence and many prayers that brought about the filling of my first dream shelf.

3D Rev G coverThis new shelf stands in a library, within the Johnson County Library System. One of my readers recommended, “The Unraveling of Reverend G”, and the librarian agreed to put it into their system. Hopefully, people will regularly check out my book and find encouragement within the story of a woman who bravely faces her Alzheimer’s struggle.

Do I have a new dream, another goal? You bet I do. I want the second Reverend G book and then the third to also grace library shelves. I want my books in the hands of as many folks as possible so that they find encouragement within the words that God and I wrote.

And someday, I want even more books on my dream shelf, because I’m not finished with ideas and I’m not ready to give up on my dreams.

Words still stir within my soul and more empty shelves beg to be filled. I need another bookcase.

©2013 RJ Thesman, Author of “The Unraveling of Reverend G”