How can I follow you on social media?
This website and my author’s page on Facebook (brilliantly curated by Carrie Davidson at HarperOne) are my only landing strips on social media—so if you receive a friend request from me, please ignore it. It’s not from me! I’m wandering around outside somewhere.
Will you sign a book for me?
Gladly. Just send it to me at Post Office Box 1030, Clarkesville, GA 30523. Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped book mailer along with your instructions to me for signing.
Who handles your speaking engagements?
My calendar is as full as I want it to be for the next couple of years. I am not considering any new invitations at this time.
Are you available for one-on-one meetings or telephone conversations?
Most of the wisdom I have is already on the page. If there is enough in one of my books to prompt further conversation, then the best idea is to find conversation partners closer to home who can provide ongoing relationship—or plan to attend one of the events on my calendar so we can say hello then.
May I send you the manuscript of my new book for endorsement?
Since I have very literate friends, everyone I know seems to have written a book lately. The queue stays full, which means that I am not able to read books by people I have never met. It pains me to say this, since I know how hard it is to write and market a book. Thank you for thinking of me. I hope your book lands in the hand of eager readers who thank you for saying what they wanted to say but didn’t know how.
I am trying to break into the book business. Can you help me figure out how to do that?
The publishing business has changed so much since I first got into it that I would not know where to begin. In your place, I would subscribe to a publication such as Poets & Writers (which has a link for literary agents) or Writer's Digest. If you are trying to figure out where to send your manuscript, then another good idea is to scour the acknowledgements pages of authors whose work you admire to see if they mention the names of their editors or agents. Unless you are an extreme introvert, it may also be worth your while to join a local writer's group or search the web for a workshop you would like to attend. If spiritual writing is your thing, I can recommend Writing for Your Life (writingforyourlife.com).
What are you reading right now?
I have just finished three wonderful memoirs in a row: Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous, Old in Art School by Nell Irvin Painter, and When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. Rumaan Alam’s new novel, Leave the World Behind, was alarmingly good. So is Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise, which is keeping me up at night right now. I’ve also been re-reading John O’Donohue’s collection of blessings, To Bless The Space Between Us (2008), published in the same year he died. I turn to it more often than any other book of prayer and recommend it highly to anyone whose heart could use a warm blanket.
What books do you recommend for writers?
This is a little like setting up a blind date, but here are some books I have found helpful for writers of memoir, first person essay, homily, or poem: The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, Draft No. 4 by John McPhee, Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas, Writing the Sacred Journey by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Burn this Book edited by Toni Morrison, Writing—the Sacred Art by Rami Shapiro and Aaron Shapiro, Naming the World and Other Exercises edited by Bret Anthony Johnston; and The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises by Brian Kitelely.
Have you really left church?
I’m in churches all the time. The title of my first memoir was a sleight-of-hand, meant to help all of us explore what we mean when we say, “church.” In my lifetime, the answer is that “church” includes more people than I ever imagined, leaning into the Divine from vastly different angles that all sound familiar to me.
I have a question that ought to be included here but isn't. Where do I send it?
If you have a suggestion for this page, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full disclosure: I read all my mail, but I’m a lousy correspondent. Since I do not expect, on my deathbed, to wish I had spent more time with my computer, I’m encouraging it to make new friends now.