A place for Frequently Asked Questions, and a few others. You can find questions and answers about writing and publishing near the end.

Finding Ourselves in Britain

How’d you manage to win awards for this book? Can I put my own book forward?

I don’t know how it won – but I’m so grateful! Finding Myself in Britain was named the Christian living book of the year at the Christian Resources Together retreat in September 2016, which I got to attend. Donna Harris, managing director of Authentic Media, grabbed my hand and we went up to the front to receive the award. An adrenaline-fuelled, joyful experience.

I wasn’t surprised at FMIB winning Cover of the Year for the Eden.co.uk awards – as voted by readers – for it’s a simply wonderful design that Vivian Hansen created. I share the intriguing backstory here and here. You can read all of the “Behind the Scenes” posts here.

No, sorry, you can’t put your book forward for these awards – they are chosen by methods unique to each organization.

Where is home? Why is it so important to you?

Early on in our marriage, Nicholas and I agreed that we would call “home” wherever we were living – so that we’d be present and intentional about what was home. At times early on in England I found that difficult – such as our first Christmas in Epsom, as I detail in the book.

Home – and our Homemaker – are strong themes in Finding Myself in Britain, and I loved exploring them further for nearly a year by many gifted writers who contributed to the “There’s No Place Like Home” series. You can find them all here.

Mixer tap or hot and cold?

Oh my – mixer taps all the way! (To Americans wondering what I’m talking about – a standard faucet.) And not one of those strange contraptions where the hot and cold water flow out in one tap but in two streams. The bigger question, of course, is why are Americans seemingly obsessed with plumbing? And why do British homes even have hot and cold taps in the first place? I explore all of these answers in Finding Myself in Britain – a whole chapter on plumbing, which I had to persuade my publishers not to cut.

I’m an American who lives in the UK. Help!

I’ve set up a Facebook group for you! Please join us – there are several expat groups you’ll find on Facebook, but this one (“Finding Ourselves in Britain”) explores the issues from the lens of faith. Email me ([email protected]) and I will add you to the group.

I miss Thanksgiving in America. It’s just another normal day here. Any tips?

I know what you mean! If you’re near London, don’t miss the annual service at St Paul’s Cathedral (starting at 11 am). I can’t guarantee you won’t get all teary-eyed at seeing the Stars and Stripes being marched up the center aisle. Also, host your own Thanksgiving meal. We usually do ours the weekend after.

We’re visiting London. Where should we go to church?

London brims with wonderful churches to visit. If you want an experience of big and bold, go for HTB (Holy Trinity Brompton), the home of Alpha, or All Souls Langham Place (John Stott’s church next to the BBC) or the rockin’ Hillsong. If you want to visit a welcoming Anglican neighborhood church on a much smaller level, we’re at St Paul’s Finchley.

The Power of Forgiveness

Why did you write a book on forgiveness?

My publisher, the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), posed this question and more, which you can read here. In short, I read the story in 2001 about Jill Saward forgiving her attackers and it lodged in my heart and mind.

Why Lent? Isn’t that a miserable time of fasting?

No! It can be a rich time of communion with God. I share some of my own Lenten journeys here, and how to prepare for a good Lent here (including recommending some good Lent books).

It’s not Lent at the moment – should I wait for next year to read The Living Cross?

You can read it now! Forgiveness is a theme for high days and holy days – and all the days in between. The Living Cross has been geared to read during the 47 days of Lent, but you can engage with it at any time. You might consider reading it in chronological order if you’re reading it outside of Lent, moving the week on the early church to the end. (And yes – there are 47 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. We speak of the 40 days of Lent because Sundays are feast days.)

What are “Forgiveness Fridays”?

I adore hosting guest-blog series, and have been bowled over by the depth and fabulousness of these blogs on the theme of forgiveness. Stories include that of a wife who did the unthinkable but her husband welcomed her back; an abused wife who forgave her husband (but stayed divorced for her safety); the power of forgiveness in war-torn countries; those on forgiving oneself and forgiving God. I’m humbled by the quality and variety of this series. You won’t want to miss it.

Writing, publishing, and spreading the word 

I’ve written a book and want to get it published. Can you help me?

Congratulations for persevering with your writing! I can only help indirectly, for I receive many such requests. As I love sharing what I’ve learned over several decades in the publishing business, I’ve written posts on writing and publishing, which you can view here. One in particular about how to get published is this one. I’ve had a tangled journey of trying to get published, including rejection. Which, in a strange way, you might find encouraging.

What about other types of writing?

Here are some of the popular writing posts:

Could you edit or give me feedback on my book/article/blog post?

I’m sorry, but I’m not working editorially at this time.

Will you review my book in the Woman Alive book club?

I receive many such requests, as the book club is popular – which is wonderful! But I am limited on the number of books I can review – between 12-24 a year, depending if I feature one or two books a month. My system for reviewing books is rather intuitive; I look at the publisher’s new release lists and listen to readers for what they enjoy. And I’m afraid I often feel, “So many books; so little time.” One policy I have to stick to, as developed by our editor, is featuring books published by a traditional publisher (not self-published). If your book is published by a traditional publisher, you’re welcome to have your publicist contact me.

I will soon have my first radio interview. Any tips?

Yes! I love radio, ever since the nerve-wracking week over a decade ago when I reviewed the newspapers on the “Woman to Woman” show on Premier Radio with a tough interviewer (this was before the gorgeous Maria Rodgrius came to host the show). Yes, I flailed. But I’ve learned, and I share my advice in this post – don’t ramble; make sure you smile; speak as if to one person…

Social-media and authors. Any thoughts?

Why yes. I explored this when my first book came out in terms of how much is enough. Really it all boils down to authenticity. You’re building a community, not trying to push your wares onto someone. But of course you would like them to buy your book, so it can feel like walking a tightrope. When I post online, I try to give of myself – whether through my devotional thoughts or tips about the craft of writing. Readers can sense when you have an attitude of giving or grabbing.

All authors tend to have a favorite social-media platform. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but Facebook is probably my best place for connecting with people (although as someone who is visual, I love Instagram too).

If you’re an author on Facebook, you can set up an author’s public page, but probably what you want to do is set your personal profile so that you’re accepting followers. Facebook’s algorithms favor those who advertise. If you don’t want to do that, your author-page posts may get buried or not appear in the feeds of those who follow you. I’m amazed at how many posts I will never see in my feed from someone’s public page.

If you set your personal profile so that people can follow you, you’ll need to be intentional about what you post to whom. Posts intended for everyone you can set to a public setting, but posts about your fabulous holiday in Cyprus (when you’re away and your house is vulnerable) you should only show to a trusted group of friends. Which is why you should divvy up your friends into subsets – friends, acquaintances, writing friends, trusted friends, and so on – however you want to do it – so that you can retain the personal nature of this social-media platform.

Miscellaneous

How do I order one of your fabulous books? (Yes, I have been asked this!)

Well, thank you! I’d love for you to read my books. You can buy Finding Myself in Britain via me, or your local UK Christian bookstore, or at Eden.co.uk, or Amazon via their UK or US sites.

The same is true for The Living Cross: via me, or your local UK Christian bookstore, or at Eden.co.uk, or Amazon via their UK or US sites.

Both books are available Stateside via Amazon or Eden.

What’s your next book?

I have some ideas, but after writing my first two in quick succession, and while working on a master’s in Christian spirituality (at Heythrop College, University of London), I am not pursuing publication just yet.

“Mom!?”

How sad I’ll be when this is no longer my most frequently asked question (command)…

If God is all good and all powerful, why…?

Goodness; I wish we knew. One day I believe we will – or we’ll be so complete and fulfilled that it won’t matter. Come, Lord Jesus.