In June of 2019, I began to conceive the notion of doing a second book with the working title of When Despair Meets Delight: Stories to Cultivate Hope for Those Impacted by Serious Mental Illness. It didn’t gel until around August and I had a number of false starts. In October, I hit my stride and within that month had a rough manuscript of 27,000+ words. I sent it to my personal editor, Leanne Sype, who spruced it up. I then sent it to Moody Publishers for consideration.

Amy Simpson, an acquisitions editor from Moody, reviewed my manuscript and wrote back:

Thanks for sending your manuscript my way. I have had a chance to review it, and I’m sorry to say Moody is not the right publisher for this project. We generally don’t publish memoirs, and while your manuscript is extremely well written, we simply aren’t the best fit.

I really do think you’re a fantastic writer, and I’m glad you’re getting these experiences on paper. I encourage you to consider whether you have a desire to write a different sort of book—one that starts with a specific felt need among a specific audience and is written to address that felt need. As it is, this book asks readers to come alongside you on your journey (which is the nature of memoir). I suggest you consider whether you want to write one that instead comes alongside readers and specifically aims to help them along their journey in a specific way.

Regardless, I wish you well as you seek the right publishing partner.

I really wanted to work with Amy, so I set this manuscript aside and contacted her about what sort of book Moody would be interested in. Over the course of our conversation, it became clear that it wouldn’t be a memoir, but more of a guidebook. As Amy put it, “Here you are describing your journey and inviting readers to join you. We would want you to join their journeys and point the way.” It made perfect sense to me and I set down to write a proposal for a book that came to be called — Hope for Troubled Minds: God’s Love for Those Loving Someone with a Serious Mental Illness.

I completed the proposal in January, 2020 and sent it to Amy. She liked it. She had a few suggestions on how to connect my content with my target readership — people with loved ones who have a serious mental illness. I started working on it and then the pandemic hit. I felt led to address more urgent ministry matters, so I let Amy know I would pick it up again when the virus crisis subsided.

In the meantime, I formed a Facebook community called Hope for Troubled Minds. My initial goal was to reach out to loved ones of those with serious mental illness. More joined than this and it became a place where people who had many varied mental health struggles supported and encouraged each other. As administrator, I served as a contributing editor and I loved the role. It has now become a vibrant community with over 450 members.

Four days ago (May 4, 2020), I received an email from one of my faithful blog subscribers who served as a beta reader for When Despair Meets Delight that included this message:

“I hope that you are still working on getting your book published and accessible to so many people who need it. I feel it’s that important.”

I was struck to the core. She’s right. I have a story to share and now is the time to share it. I felt the conviction to get this book out as soon as I could. Fortunately, my mania cooperated. Over the past four days, I have:

1. Completed the manuscript.

2. Sent it to my editor (she will have it back this Friday).

3. Recruited endorsements from: Amy Simpson, author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission; Steve Grcevich, author of Mental Health and the Church; John Mulder, author of Finding God: A Treasury of Conversion Stories; and Katie Dale, author of But Deliver Me from Crazy. Mark Teike, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran in Columbus, Indiana agreed to write the Foreword.

4. Contracted with a gifted graphic artist for the cover design.

5. Offered a contract to a skilled graduating student to do the formatting.

6. Began soliciting support by offering advance copies for $15.

Now, all I have to do is to collect all the pieces and sent for the book to be finished. I should receive my first shipment no later than July 15.

My Dad turns 80 on July 18. This will likely be his last, as he has only been given six months to live.

I am in tears as I write this. God is so good.

Blessings, Tony.

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