All of This, God Talks, Writing

What’s Your Cover Copy?

I’m writing theIMG_5369 back cover copy for my newest book. Basically, that’s the little description you find on a book when you flip it over. It’s like a mini synopsis of the story, but it doesn’t give away all of the details…it gives readers just enough information to make them want them to read the whole thing.

It’s tricky because you have a little bit of space to work with. You have to decide which plot points and characters need to be mentioned, and which ones need to stay hidden. You have to show the voice/personality of the story, while also keeping it polished.

Here’s the back cover copy of All of This

Sadie Franklin is all about independence, but when one of her popular parties gets too crazy, her usually uninvolved dad sends her across the country to spend the summer with relatives.

Living in small-town Pecan Creek, Georgia, is culture shock for a girl from Seattle, and it doesn’t help that Sadie’s aunt and uncle are total church people. Sunday school? No, thanks.

Add a houseful of little cousins, an accidental friendship with the preacher’s daughter of all people, and the attention of a guy who might actually understand her murky past, and it’s enough to cue an identity crisis.

When life-altering news rocks Sadie’s world and reveals messy family secrets, she’s forced to face the God she’s avoided since her mom’s death eight years ago. Sadie is surrounded by people who say God loves her and has great plans for her life, but if God is really good, why does He let Sadie’s life unravel? Could there really be a purpose in all of this?

See how Sadie is the only character who’s actually named? There are several other people in the book, but it’s her show. Also, see how some things are mentioned but not completely explained? Like, who is the “guy who might actually understand her murky past?” If you’ve read the book, you’ll know. But if you dive into it for the first time, that’s something you figure out as you go.

The back cover copy also shows the theme of the book. Look at that question at the end of the last paragraph: “Could there really be a purpose in all of this?”

And finally, the back cover copy lets you know the character’s journey isn’t going to be easy. There will be conflict in the pages – with uncontrollable circumstances, with other people, and within the main character herself.

So that’s what I’m working on with this next book. No, it’s not getting shopped around for publication yet, but making the back cover copy is part of the process. Sadie will be the focus again, but I have to decide what parts of the story to share with people. I have to ask myself: What other characters do I mention? Which plot points do I include? How do I incorporate the theme?

To sum it up, the back cover copy is a quick glance at a much deeper story.

Fun fact: This post isn’t actually about writing. As I was thinking through the back cover copy for my project, it made me wonder: how would I honestly sum up my own life? If I were to write a back cover copy for The Life of Anna Schaeffer (still working on a title for my pretend memoir), what would I include? Who would I include? Which details of my life story would I mention? What gets to the heart of who I really am?

Naturally, I’d put my faith on there. But if I were being honest about the conflict in my life, how would that look on the copy? Would it say I don’t always pray like I should? Would it say I love Jesus, but sometimes I struggle to step out of my comfort zone?

What about my relationships with others? Would it say I’m a loyal friend, a daughter who honors her parents, a good sister?

What would be the theme of my story? The thread woven throughout the pages of my journey?

It’s a lot to think through, I know. But I think it’s good for us to evaluate our life like that – to take an honest look at what others see when they interact with us.

I pray the back cover copy of my life story points to Jesus. I pray it reads that no, I don’t have it all together, but Jesus holds me together. My hope is that others see grace as that theme woven throughout my story. And I pray that snapshot of my life and His grace makes others want to learn more about the theme.

What about you? What would be in the back cover copy of your life?

My Kind of Average

Thank You, God, for Plants

I have this maternal nature where I like to take care of people. Like, if you live in my town, I’ve probably invited you over for dinner.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve said something like this:

“Just stop by after work. I’ve got chicken in the Crock Pot.”

Or:

“Have you had real food recently? Let me fix you some veggies.”

Or:

“I’m doing a load of laundry. Got any towels you want to throw in?”

That last one is just for my roommates, by the way. I don’t ask my co-workers if they want me to wash their linens.

It’s in my nature, but I try not to mom my friends too much. That’s why, every now and then, I get this strong desire to get a pet.

Unfortunately, I can’t have a cat in my apartment. I know. Grieve with me.

I could have a fish, but those creep me out.

So I have plants.

(Does this sound pitiful? It’s not supposed to).

Anyway, a couple weekends ago, my sister and I went to this big plant nursery in Raleigh to add to our collections. They have outdoor plants and indoor plants, succulents and air plants, shrubs and bonsais.

They also have these miniature plants, which are, of course, our favorites.

On several occasions, my sister and I squealed, “LOOK AT ALL THE BABIES!!”

We are the people who call tiny ferns precious.

Walking around the plant nursery after a week of work in the office was so relaxing. Although we were in a greenhouse, we were in nature. We oohed and aahed over stunning hibiscus, ran our fingers through the foxtail ferns, smelled the organic herbs, and imagined how we could fit a fir tree on my sister’s front porch.

It was quiet, except for the occasional bird chirp or friendly employee greeting. We didn’t even mind the North Carolina humidity, because we were caught up in everything around us.

It made me wonder: When was the last time I stepped away from my routine and just enjoyed participating in life? When was the last time I went on an adventure after I clocked out in the afternoon, rather than collapse on my couch and scroll through Instagram? How often do I make a point of doing something without a specific point?

Because that time at the plant nursery? It felt like taking a deep, clean breath. Meandering through rows of annuals and orchids was somehow energizing. And the quality time with my sister was good, too.

So that’s my challenge for us this weekend: Let’s find something to do that doesn’t involve a lot of planning or cost a lot of money. Let’s do something that involves the beauty of creation and time with someone we dearly love.

Let’s do something that fills us up, rather than drains us. And, to really immerse ourselves in the experience, let’s not stop in the middle of it to post a picture of it online.

Let’s participate fully in this life we’re given.

P.S. In case you’re curious, here’s a slideshow of my mini plants and my newest additions: basil and parsley.

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