My journey toward self-publishing has been arduous. For some, the process is quite easy. Just write something. Plug it into an Amazon service. Punch a few user-friendly buttons and — bim, bam, boom — out pops a book. Looking back, I wish I had taken an easier path. But nothing is ever easy for me. I prefer to suffer. I’d like to think that choosing a more rugged, less traveled road would lead me to a greater destination. But it doesn’t always. There is no guarantee that the amount of effort we put into something will directly corelate to the finished product.

To say that the road to my book has been rugged would be an understatement. Not only were there detours, but crashes. There were times when I traveled precariously close to cliffs with the tires barely gripping the edge of the mountain. Many of you have journeyed with me through this process and you have been an incredible encouragement. Without the support of my family, friends, and readers, I would not have have made it to my final destination.  For this I am tremendously grateful. You have continued to provide support by ordering my book, posting pictures when it arrives, reading, rating and reviewing it on Amazon and Goodreads. Thanks to your generous efforts, more people are drawn to the message of how despair meets delight and this leads to hope.

They say writers can be our own worst critics and I would agree from my experience that this is true. Each technical glitch in my book in the e-version and in print causes me to consider if it was worth putting out at all. Or if I should have done it another way. If, if, if. If “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas. But these ifs led me to miss the positive impact my book was having. I was discounting the countless testimonies of people who were reading my book and responding what a difference it was making in their lives. People like Denise from Chicago —

Tony…..I received your book and must say before even opening it to read I was fascinated by its sensory stimulus for me…..the smell of the print and the feel of its cover held me in a curious pause before I could open it to read it. As I started reading I could see your way of speaking vividly in the book and its friendly way of not being intrusive yet being engaging. I am forcing myself to slowly read and discover instead of gobbling down the book in one night…..since I am an avid reader and often can read a whole book in a day. You say things I want to ponder and reflect back onto myself. Your “bedside manner” is quite compassionate even when you are blunt and truthful about yourself but especially about this science we are trying to utilize with God’s word. Thank you for this hard copy that is signed…you are always thinking of others.

Thank you, Denise, and all who are ordering, reading, and responding to my book. This helps turn my despair into delight.

For all of you, I have some very special news. Early in my publishing process, I made a commitment to do an audio version. I know many people who have lifestyles that do not lend themselves to reading. More and more, people are listening to audio books as a way to access broad and deep information. And not always exclusively. I know a pastor who reads hundreds of books each year with in a very efficient and effective manner. He gets the audio version and the print copy then listens and reads at the same time, making notes as you goes. This method takes me back to my delightful days in school where I recorded cherished quotes I still remember to this day.

Well, here is the good news… The audio recording is finished. It features me as narrator, sharing stories of hope for those who battle mental illness. I want to thank all who contributed to the development of this project. Eric Riddle, who first showed me the technical aspects of recording. Stefanie Merrifield and our library’s Digital Underground for the equipment and coaching to do the recording. And last, but certainly not least, Stephen Planalp who polish up the final product so it might be a thing of beauty.

As thanks for all you have done, are doing, and I have no doubt will continue to do for the cause of mental health ministry, here is a sneak peak of the audiobook. Pastor Mark Teike from St. Peter’s Lutheran (Columbus, IN) reading his Foreword.