Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside
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One of the challenging aspects of releasing a new book is finding ways to help people see how they could use it. In other words, writing the book is only the beginning. The next step is figuring out who might find it helpful, and offering some practical suggestions.
Sometimes this can be a bit intimidating, especially when the people to whom I am speaking (or writing) have a whole lot more experience than I do! So I think of it as a big exchange of ideas. I scatter a few thoughts to the wind, hope they take root somewhere, and trust that whatever grows from them will continue to seed itself far and wide, probably in ways I had not even imagined.
This is certainly the case with this brief article I wrote for the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators. You can read it here: https://apcenet.org/2021/04/11/sparks-and-seeds-celebrating-pentecost-and-the-growing-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sparks-and-seeds-celebrating-pentecost-and-the-growing-time&fbclid=IwAR1hy99ScVugz4ASpcOU6smwhQJinPoTLLGnfWviuoYlFIdi8Oet8LEaPU8
On Tuesday April 13th we had our virtual launch party for Breathe! Rachel McKendree from Paraclete Press was our host, and Traci Smith and I had lots of laughs–and some serious moments too–as we talked about simple and meaningful ways of making the book part of the experience of celebrating Pentecost and the Growing Time at home.
I had an opportunity to thank some people publicly at the launch–that’s a thank you flower behind me in the photos–but want to say again how much I appreciate the support I have felt from Paraclete Press, from the launch team, from my endorsers, and from friends far and wide who have shared my excitement about this book.
I feel like the sparks and seeds have been scattered. Now I look forward to seeing what they ignite and grow in other places.
“When I heard that Paraclete Press was publishing another book by Laura Alary, I was excited! I loved her previous books Make Room: A Child’s Guide for Lent and Easter and Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas. They stand head and shoulders above other children’s books on those topics, combining explanations of the special days of the church with a deep spirituality and connection to the ordinary parts of a child’s life.”
I am so grateful for this enthusiastic review of Breathe by Debbie Kolacki from Practical Resources for Churches.
Practical Resources for Churches is an organization that supports congregations through webinars, workshops, and other resources. I have benefitted from their help over the years, and am glad that through my writing I am also able to contribute to their work.
“In Breathe Laura has woven a silken thread of our breath through each of these days and season, masterfully tying them to each other from the moment the disciples hold their breath at Christ’s Ascension, through to their breathing in of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and on to the apostles breathing out of God’s love into a growing and changing world. By dividing her work into three distinct sections Laura allows us to experience each day and season on its own while also building a clear connection between each. In each she has provided a rich and descriptive retelling of the biblical story, a contemporary story explaining and reflecting on the time being celebrated, and play-filled suggestions for family activities and conversations to experience together.”
Many thanks to Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation for the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda (The Presbyterian Church in Canada) for her thoughtful, practical, and beautifully written review of Breathe.
You can read the complete review here: http://www.cnob.org/?p=2296&fbclid=IwAR2x3bRiGFo-WhhJQ3tIsAjhsRqEKGEJmFUscAgDmYz3hZpotNQitpGVqUI
Back in December I joined Derrick Weston and Anna Woofenden on the Food and Faith Podcast to talk about What Grew in Larry’s Garden. I enjoyed myself so much that when I knew the launch of Breathe was approaching I was bold enough to ask if I could make a return visit.
My justification for wanting to talk about my newest book is that there is a whole of food in Breathe! In those 32 pages, people do a lot of planting, weeding, tending, harvesting, cooking, sharing, and eating together.
As I said to Derrick during our conversation, food appears in three main ways: 1) Building community through shared meals (including extending hospitality and care to those who cannot be physically present; 2) Caring for the environment; 3) Using the symbolism of food (vine and branches, eucharistic elements of bread and wine) to express the mystery of one the many can be connected as one.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Derrick and highly recommend the Food and Faith Podcast–not just my episode! You can listen to our conversation here: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-6gvi9-ffc551?fbclid=IwAR21dRAJS0rwVYhyfX873ZKFUfyOKlIKmcUb8hvlMOD2Qx1Ahod0mVcCapc
One of the things I have often found difficult about promoting a book is asking people to endorse it. Do I approach friends? People whose work I admire and respect, but to whom I am a complete stranger? Over the years I have gotten a bit braver about asking for help in this way. Sometimes people say no, for perfectly good reasons. But sometimes they say yes.
Having written a few blurbs myself, I know that they represent an investment of thought and time that far exceeds their length. So I am always really grateful when someone does me the honour of reading one of my books and endorsing it.
In the case of Breathe I have been particularly fortunate. Endorsements have come from friends old and new, and from people I have never met (but hope to someday). Some of these people are professional educators, others are writers and artists, a few are professors in different fields. All of them have a great sensitivity and appreciation for how a picture book can have something worthwhile to say to all ages.
I was hoping to find a way to gather these words of encouragement together, but Paraclete Press did it for me, creating a beautiful collection of endorsements which I am proud to share here.
How do you make a virtual launch party fun?
Well, it helps to have good friends there with you. That’s why I am so excited that Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families, Faithful Families Advent and Christmas, and Prayers for Faithful Families, has agreed to join me to chat about celebrating Pentecost and the Growing Time with children.
Traci and I both agree that cupcakes are also necessary–but you’ll have to provide your own. Dress in red if you like, or Growing Time green, and please join us for some ideas, good conversation, and a glimpse into my new book, Breathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost, and the Growing Time.
The event is free and everyone is welcome. You can register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CyWxcyo4SRel9yaXz35NQQ?fbclid=IwAR1LB97g42u0TmM4xihUSavQ9e9-tImXS_8PTY0Ej3KCH-5xC-19yC5j6Yw