Frequently Asked Questions
What is your next book about?
I'm calling it Holy Envy after Krister Stendhal, who proposed holy envy as one of his three rules for interfaith understanding. The book will be a classroom memoir, focusing on the teaching of Religion 1101 (Religions of the World) at a small college in rural Northeast Georgia over the past twenty years.
Will you sign a book for me?
Gladly. You may call the Piedmont College Bookstore at 706-776-0013 and place your order with Judy or Claudia, or you may order a book from your favorite bookseller and send it to me at Piedmont College, Post Office Box 10, Demorest, GA 30535. Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped book mailer along with your instructions to me for signing.
My book club is reading one of your books. Can you meet with us—in person or by phone—to discuss it with us?
Thank you for reading my book. Since I am still a full time teacher with a load of extra commitments, I am not able to meet one-on-one with book clubs. If the book you are reading does not have a study guide at the back, you should be able to find a link to one on the Books page of this web site. I hope that what I have written gives you plenty of opportunity to tell your own stories.
My organization has an annual lecture series that I hope you will consider doing. Who handles your speaking engagements?
My calendar is full for the next couple of years, and I am not considering any new invitations at this time. If your organization operates at the intersection of spirituality and the arts--or works intentionally to bring people of different faiths together—then write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me more. Even though I won't be able to come, I'd still like to know about it.
Your writing has meant a lot to someone I know. Are you available for one-on-one meetings or telephone conversations?
Unfortunately not. Most of the wisdom I have is already on the page. If there is enough there to prompt further conversation, then the best idea is to find someone closer to home who can offer ongoing relationship. I would be very happy to think that my writing has provided a bridge for something like that to happen.
I have a new book coming out that I hope you will consider endorsing. Are you willing to take a look at it?
I am only able to read two or three books for review each year. Books written by people I know and books published by HarperOne have priority, which means that the queue stays full. If your book falls into either of those categories, write me at email@example.com to tell me more.
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 you they mention the names of their editors or agents.
May I sit in on one of your classes at Piedmont College?
Piedmont does not have a guest student program, but take a look at the annual Lillian E. Smith Symposium on the Arts and Social Change at Piedmont College. I am always involved with that program in one way or another.
What are you reading right now?
Mostly student papers, but the stack by my bed also includes Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and The Pleasing Hour by Lily King. The book on the top of the nonfiction stack is The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jameson, followed by Between You and Me by Mary Norris and Belden Lane's Backpacking with the Saints. In the mornings I read lots of calm Buddhists, chief among whom are Sharon Salzberg and Pema Chodron.
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: Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir by William Zinsser, Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas, Writing the Sacred Journey by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, The African American Writer's Handbook by Robert Fleming, Writing--the Sacred Art by Rami Shapiro and Aaron Shapiro, Naming the World and Other Exercises edited by Bret Anthony Johnston; The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises by Brian Kitelely; Burn this Book edited by Toni Morrison.
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, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Full disclosure: while I read all of the mail I receive, I am no longer able to answer it all. Since I do not expect, on my deathbed, to wish that I had spent more time in front of a computer, I am doing my best to limit the amount of time I spend in front of one now.
“Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?” Thornton Wilder, Our Town