Hey kids, this is it.
This will be the last Christmas I try marketing this book. First of all, thank you to all you guys who have supported it over the three years I've had it for sale. Thanks for buying it, telling people about it, writing me notes about it. I've never had ONE person...not one...tell me "Yeah it was okay." Every comment has been emphatic and positive. people gush over it. I don't say that to brag, I say that because it's an honor. Some people are very good writers and when they work their craft the results are amazing. Others tap a vein once in their life. The guy who wrote "The Shack" is one such example. He's really not a good writer. In fact he had two ghost writers who really made "The Shack" readable. His subsequent efforts have essentially been horrible, but hey...he's worth millions so who cares? But he had that one moment where he was inspired and something special happened. (regardless of how you feel about the theology of "The Shack" it was a phenomenon)
Chaim Potok, on the other hand is a craftsman. He was born with the gift. He never wrote an average book in his life. It was all varying degrees of greatness. Timeless authors are like that. Some people are both. Hugo was both. Brennan Manning was both. In the songwriting world, my friend Rick Elias is both. He could sit down and make a conscious effort to write a good, pop-catchy song and nobody could be better at it. He has also written some of the most inspired-in-the-moment songs I have ever heard.
Me...I think I am a tiny bit of each. The natural ability is there, I recognize that, albeit halfway through my life before I did anything with it. But the Christmas book was really, truly, inspired. I know many of my FB friends remember all the way back to that winter in 2010 when I wrote it. It actually began as just a series of blog posts during Advent season that year. The first story was Santa Claus kneeling at the manger and it was written in maybe 5 minutes. The words and the vision just poured out. The next day, if I remember correctly, it was Joseph. That one too, just wrote itself. After about a week, some of you were emailing me and telling me how you were looking forward to the next day's story and how much they were affecting you.
(I treasured that, by the way) So somewhere along the way...about the second week of Advent...I decided to make this an online Advent Calender for grownups. The stories sometimes shocked me as I wrote them. The story of Andre Deputy was one of my favorites because of the way it all came about. I was homeless then and I used to walk about five miles each morning at the walking trails at Williamson County rec center. I used this time to pray and meditate and recharge my weary batteries. I remember thinking..."I don't have a story for today" and I prayed. I asked God for a story that morning. That was the first story I specifically asked God for. The ones prior had come about from the well in my soul. I walked a few steps further and suddenly the name "Andre Deputy" echoed in my heart. It was so strange to me that I literally stopped in my tracks. I never knew the man, I only knew his story because he made the news while he fought his eventual execution. I had come to know Bill Killen, the former Attorney general who became a liaison for criminals who sought pardons and commutation later in life. Bill was a devout believer and a wonderful man, and he worked with Andre in the futile attempt to stay his execution and give him a shot at living the Faith he had come to embrace.
But that morning, I suddenly said the name out loud..."Andre Deputy" the name I had never had a reason to say out loud before. Within seconds the entire story started taking shape in my mind. A murderer, his victims, the baby Jesus, forgiveness...
I was bent over with my hands on my knees sobbing uncontrollably. Another walker came over to me and asked me if I was okay. I was too moved to be embarrassed. I finished my walk, took a shower, went to Panera and did some online research. Sure enough...the victims of Andre's crime were believers. There HAD been a reconciliation and restoration in heaven when he was executed. There was forgiveness.
The story poured out like a river and I was doing my best to hide my tears while I typed furiously in Panera. I remember when I posted that one...the comments were amazing. That one story touched so many people.
After that it was easy. I prayed every morning after that for the story of the day. So many times I found myself literally overwhelmed by the emotion of the visual images the stories evoked before I even wrote a word. The Roman soldier whose hands had been blood-stained for years but who finds them white as snow after holding Jesus. The innkeeper. Maybe my other favorite story was Mother Teresa. For whatever reason the thought occurred to me to find out her birthname and use it throughout the story and only reveal her identity with the final words. That made it more emotional than anything I had written outside of the Andre Deputy story.
I guess I needed to remind myself this. I am struggling with this book. If I hadn't written it, I would have wished I had. I think it's very special and it has something that everyone seeks at Christmas. It's one of the most unique Christmas stories I've ever read. And yet I can't GIVE this book away.
You guys have been wonderful and bought copies and told people about it. But I have not figured out how to market this to the masses and get them interested. I'm tired of trying. You are probably sick of seeing my hoot-suite automatic posts every hour during Christmas too. So this will be the final attempt. After this Christmas it just sits there on Amazon and if people buy it, they buy it.
I really NEED this book to succeed. Not simply for the dollars. I'm a good enough writer that if I wanted to simply write for a buck, I'd trot out some vampire-eats-zombies storyline with sex and gore and issue it under an assumed name and make a few dollars. But I don't want that. I don't think all my books are special. I think they're all good, but Ragamuffin is special. The stories are special. The setting is special. I need this book to do well to show me somehow that six years of living like an animal actually bore some fruit. I need something to be a little proud of.
Thanks for listening to my rant. Bear with me for one final Christmas push. And please pray for success on this. Thanks kids