Tag s | Creativity

An Author’s Journey

I wanted our agency client Scott Douglas LaCounte to guest-blog today because of the anniversary it represents (see below) and how God worked through the publishing process and journey to encourage a writer and his family.

 8775659_origScott is quite modest. He is the head librarian for the Southern California Institute of Technology. Years ago, he was a regular contributor to the popular Christian humor magazine “The Wittenberg Door.” He has given presentations on mobile application development at several conferences, and is the author of a number of books on mobile app development. Scott appeared periodically on the Christianity Today “Ignite Your Faith” online area for youth among a number of other projects.

 What I liked about Scott when I offered him representation was his commitment to writing in whatever form needed for the message. After all, not everything needs to be in a long book.

 Today’s blog is about his journey with twists and turns, but behind it all, God was there. (Read to the end. It is worth it.)

 Guest Blog – Scott Douglas LaCounte

Platform. It can make or break a writer.

But what happens when you don’t have a platform? Are you destined to stay forever at the bottom of the slush pile sometimes known as the trashcan?

When I sold my first book, Quiet, Please: Dispatches From a Public Librarian, I had no problem at all finding an agent; I sent query letters to six agents and didn’t get a single rejection; that book started as a series of blogs for McSweeneys.net, and, it turned out, I had established a platform without even knowing it.

I followed it up with a self-published YA series called The N00b Warriors, which went all the way to #1 on Kindle’s bestseller list; this happened when Kindle was new and writers were just beginning to understand what this meant to self-publishing, so the market wasn’t quite so crowded.

For my next book, I wanted to break away and try something different: write about my faith. My wife was pregnant with our first child, and as I looked at her bump, I wondered how I would explain why I believe to my son one day.

Christianity wasn’t so hard in my youth. But as I aged, it seemed to get more…extreme. Crazy Christians were everywhere spewing hatred out of a gospel that was full of love.

Millions of Christians were walking away not because they felt God had let them down, but because Christians had let them down. One day, I knew my son would ask why I believe when so many Christians seem to be not so Christian.

#OrganicJesus was born out of this question. It was my attempt to explain the real history of the gospel to a generation born in a world where Christianity sometimes felt a little unloving—a generation that questioned how God could be real when so many Christians were deeply flawed. Christians who say hurtful and horrible things and use the Gospel to back up their agenda.

While I was still working on an outline and sample chapters, my son, Mordecai Max, died in childbirth. It was a cord accident that doctors would never be able to explain with any other rationale than “freak accident.”

I didn’t have the doubts or anger that typically follow tragedy. In the place of anger, I had a pen. While working through grief, I wrote the book that my son would never get to read because there were still people who needed to hear its message.

Writing it was the easy part. The hard part: platform. I had spent the duration of my writing career not really thinking about the word. I had built it effortlessly. But this book was something new—having a bestselling YA series and a blog series from ten years ago wasn’t the kind of platform agents and publishers would be looking for—especially when both of those things were in a completely different genre and the readers wouldn’t necessarily follow me over.

Before a publisher would look at it, I needed an agent; more than an agent, I needed someone willing to shepherd the work even though my platform was limited and I had never published a Christian book. In short, I needed an agent who was willing to bet against the odds.

As I worked on the proposal, I thought a lot about platform. Platform takes time. Years, even. Did I really have the endurance to spend five years working on platform before going to agents with this idea for a book that may or may not be relevant in five years?

I thought about how I could build a platform around the book; I thought about how I could make the book itself social and sharable. I added to the narrative sharable images, social responses, games, polls—dozens and dozens of things that would pull the reader out of the book and onto the Internet. It was an experiment. It was different. I needed an agent who was willing to see it for what it was and take a chance on it. Dan Balow was that agent.

Dan took the book, helped me develop a book proposal and patiently knocked on the door of nearly every English speaking publishing house.

On the one-year anniversary of my son’s death (October 2, 2014), I signed a contract with Kregel Publications to publish #Organicjesus. (Book link here)

The journey continues; in March 2016, I signed a contract to write a second book with Kregel…the same week I found out my wife was pregnant again.

Epilogue

cqzuwm5yJust before midnight on Thursday, October 13, Scott’s wife Diana delivered little Miko Rey LaCounte. She was born a couple weeks early and small (less than six pounds) but she was in hurry to join the family and get into her cool nursery, so who can blame her?  Here’s a link to her nursery. (They are into Star Wars) 

Dad, mom and the newest LaCounte are doing well.

 Diana LaCounte is part Japanese, and Miko means beautiful child; Rey is a form of ray. So they like to say she’s a beautiful ray of light from God.

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Creativity Sparks

Thank all of you for the blessing of your shared thoughts, encouragement, and condolences on my blog last week. As I suspected, many others have been in this place of struggling to wrench creativity from the jaws of emotional/spiritual/physical fog. Your suggestions echoed my own, from giving yourself time to …

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Autumn Haiku

I love autumn. Love the crisp air, the faint scent of burning leaves, the cold mornings that still give way to sunny, blue-sky days. Love watching the leaves change into their new wardrobe of rich red, gold, and orange. There’s so much about this season that testifies to God’s artistry …

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Happy 50th Birthday, Star Trek

It was 50 years ago this week that the TV show “Star Trek” made its debut on NBC (September 8, 1966). It lasted for only three years and 79 episodes, but continues to influence our entertainment culture to this day. Did you know who the original producers were? If you guessed Gene …

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Book Topics That Will Always Be Needed (Unfortunately)

With hundreds of thousands of new books published every year in the U.S., very few are on topics never previously covered. In the Christian publishing world, a quick glimpse back in history will reveal similar patterns of behavior and spiritual need no matter when you decide to stop your time …

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There is Power in Possibility

The publishing industry can be a challenge for someone with artistic sensibilities. The psyche can be worn down by disappointment, bad reviews, poor sales, and rejection by agents and editors. To be resilient in the face of such disillusion is a quality to be desired. I found this quote from …

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Variety Is the Spice of Characters

Recently I read a general market novel where I noticed that the characters sounded the same in a way. For example, for earning money, two disparate characters said, “made scratch.” The phrase jumped out at me the first time because it’s one I simply don’t use. So when a second …

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Share Your Irish Blessings!

I think there’s a touch o’ the Irish—or at least a touch o’ the Blarney Stone—in every writer. So what more appropriate way to celebrate tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day than to write your own, original Irish Blessing? Irish blessings can be: Long or Short May the Lord be between us …

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Leap into Word Play

February 29th comes every U.S. Presidential election year. It is called Leap Year day. I pondered what we could do to celebrate this reaccuring phenomenon. Should we sing along with Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” when Frederic discovers that he was born on February 29th and the whole story turns …

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Eyes Open, Antennae Up

I can find humor anywhere. It’s a gift…or a curse. I waver on that regularly. About 35 years ago I was in a small grocery store across from our apartment to pick up a few things we needed. We didn’t have much storage space so we went to the store …

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