We had a plan for Dancing Priest. We expected the ebook versions to begin going live on Thursday. Instead, Amazon processed everything quickly and the Kindle version went live on Monday.
I had a plan, it had just been bypassed, and I didn’t care. It was an exciting thing to see.
I had planned several posts about creating the book, but the Kindle appearance superseded that idea. But part of the plan was to recognize four people who were intimately involved and helped make the book happen, and I still want to do that.
One was Adam Blumer. To say that Adam edited and proofread the manuscript is accurate, but it understates his contribution. I selected Adam because (a) he was a published writer, (b) he also works as a professional editor and has tackled numerous manuscripts, (c) he is extremely familiar with both the publishing industry and the specific audience I am writing for, and (d) he would give me a critical review, and I mean “critical” in the good sense. You live with a story for as long as I have lived with this one and you come to realize that you’re too close to it to know how it might be received.
Here’s what Adam said: Dancing Priest is “an unusual story, but I mean that in a good sense.” He liked the writing; he stayed engaged with the characters. And he asked very perceptive questions about various scenes and events, which suggested some rewriting or that I was assuming too much. (One example: I had fallen into cycling jargon, and he told me to simplify and explain.) I was more than pleased with the job he did.
The second person was Claire Burge. I knew I wanted a photograph for the cover illustration, and I was scouring web sites all over the internet. I knew Claire from my work with The High Calling; in fact, she and I had been part of a scavenger hunt team in San Antonio last year. As I searched web sites, I found a photo she posted on her blog of a coffee shop in Dublin. As soon as I saw it, I told myself that this, or something like it, could be the cover. I contacted Claire; we emailed back and forth and back and forth; she proposed several different photos.
Enter the cover designer, Jeremiah Langner. I had worked with Jeremiah on an illustration for a post I did for The High Calling – the drawing of a dragon (he likes to draw dragons). He’s the brother of Kelly Sauer, who’s the assistant photo editor for The High Calling. Kelly was the one who told Claire and I that he had done book covers. He got engaged in the project, helped figure out which photo would work best (turns out it was Claire’s favorite), and came up with an outstanding design.
And then there’s the publisher. A year ago, Mark Sutherland heard me talk about the manuscript and asked to read it. He read it and liked it (and even cried at the right part). He said, “You’re going to have let me publish it.” We laughed and went on with life.
Mark has established a small publishing house, Dunrobin Publishing. It’s published two previous books. One a children’s book on Easter and the other a commentary on the book of Malachi. In August, Mark finally said, “Are you going to let me publish your novel or not?” And I said OK, surprising both of us. He’s now read it at least five times – reading, proofing, checking, rereading and formatting. He told me this morning that every time he’s read it, he’s enjoyed it.
Mark was also something of an acid test. A good chunk of the book is set in Scotland. Mark is a native Scot and naturalized American. He grew up in Edinburgh. He turned out to be the ideal publisher for the book.
There’s also an international diversity to this team. Adam lives in upper Michigan. Claire lives in Ireland. Jeremiah is in South Carolina and Mark in Missouri. The idea for the story started on a plane to San Francisco as I listened to a Greek tenor on an in-flight music program. Parts of the story have been written in Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, Shreveport, Washington, D.C., Amsterdam and several other places I took my laptop.
But I owe heartfelt thanks to Adam, Claire, Jeremiah and Mark. They took this project on as their own, and the quality shows.