David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

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Progressive Rising Phoenix Press: Rising from the Ashes of Traditional Publishing

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

—Henry David Thoreau

 

As we drew closer to the release of both The Epiphany of Joy and Melted Clowns, Amanda M. Thrasher, author and co-owner of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press (PRPP), my publisher, emailed me a list of questions to be posted on their webpage along with my biography.  As I read through the list, the last question made me smile: “Do you believe in miracles?”  My reply: “Absolutely!”  Because that’s how my relationship with Amanda Thrasher and her business partner, Jannifer Powelson, began in September of 2011 (see my January 23, 2014 blog post, “Signs,” for more details of why my wife refers to Amanda as her “sign”).  And since then the miracles, both obvious and sublime, have defined the framework of my experience working with these professional, encouraging, patient, and dare I say fun (and funny) ladies.

From the start, everything about Amanda, Jan, and PRPP has been different from the traditional publishing industry.  It’s a company founded by authors, first and foremost, and they understand the roles of both authors and writers.  What I learned is that these women have a passion for both writing and writers, and they’ve built the mission of their small press on a platform of support and encouragement.  “I want writers,” Amanda told me.  “Not writers obsessed with being authors.  Writers write no matter what, while authors can become caught up in the illusion of being an author.  It’s not always glamorous.  It’s hard work.  Writers love the story, regardless of what it is; they understand the importance of their voice.”  PRPP only signs writers who contribute and help build their list, who understand that marketing and writing in today’s world go hand-in-hand.  They’re seeking writers who will commit to not only producing quality books on a regular basis, but also engaging directly in the success of the other writers under the label’s wings.  We as writers are encouraged, even expected, to look for opportunities to help each other out, build each other up, and spur each other on.  And isn’t that what life’s all about?

As Director of Programs for the Fort Worth Writers, a read-and-critique group, I’m in charge of securing three or four writers a year to give a talk about some aspect of the writing and publishing experience.  Amanda graciously accepted my request to be my first speaker of the 2014 season, and it tickled me that it took three rounds of explaining to convince folks the efficacy of PRPP’s unorthodox philosophy.  Of course once the light bulbs went off, many of the attendees scrambled to talk to Amanda about their projects and their frustrations with the publishing industry at large.

Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is truly progressive when it comes to offering writers an unexpected publishing experience: they respect and believe in the writer as a writer and not as a commodity.  Amanda told me, “We don’t do this for the money as a traditional publisher; you build a list, everyone will benefit.  We do this because we know what needs to be done.”

For me, being part of this organization aligns with my own calling to minister to other writers who either have the vision but don’t have the knowledge to press forward with their dream, or have been stomped on while dashing down the traditional publishing route.  I love encouraging other writers, and Jan and Amanda passionately execute this vision, leading their writers every step of the way through the process.  And believe me, if they can patiently lead this hard-headed writer through the minefield of contemporary publishing, they can lead anyone!

It’s no secret I’m a perfectionist.  Over the years I’ve learned to rein in that meticulousness (somewhat) to get it to move in a direction that best serves not only my own vision but the grander vision of God and those committed to serving the greater good.  There’s a fine line between being organized and being a control freak, and both Amanda and Jan have gracefully, and at times, firmly, guided me along the process of publication, from submitting my manuscript to developing effective press releases to participating effectively in the book design and layout process.  They’ve both helped me to see the big picture, to focus on the task at hand, and to let go of some control of the creative process for the benefit of the final product (and to allow their very tolerant designers to do their jobs).  They’ve helped me open my eyes to the fact that, yeah, they and their designers really are experts, they really do know what they’re doing, and they really do care about their writers.  We’re in this together, and together we all have the unique responsibility to lift each other up to build not only a label but the vision of PRPP’s distinctive publishing concept as well.

The past three years has been nothing short of miraculous, and I’m blessed to be associated with the talent, vision, and tireless drive that both Amanda and Jan demonstrate.  Their personal touch, attention to detail, and passion for both the writing and their writers has been life changing, amazing, and encouraging.  I’m looking forward to many more years, books, and glasses of wine with these ladies, and I hope that I can touch their lives in a positive way as much as they’ve influenced mine.  May we all continue to step to the beat of a different drummer.

For more information about Amanda M. Thrasher, visit her at:

  1. amandamthrasher.com
  2. http://www.amazon.com/Amanda-M.-Thrasher/e/B003QZKAQ0
  3. facebook.com/Phoenix.A.M.Thrasher
  4. Twitter:@AmandaMThrasher

For more information about Jannifer Powelson, visit her at:

  1. janniferpowelson.com
  2. http://www.amazon.com/Jannifer-Powelson/e/B003LNZQF2
  3. facebook.com/jannifer.powelson
  4. tinytap.it/games/
  5. Twitter: @JCPowelson

For more information about Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, see

  1. progressiverisingphoenix.com.

PRPP, progressiverisingphoenix.com, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, Amanda M. Thrasher, Jannifer Powelson

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Learning to Love the Silence (2014-01-10 Daily) [2 of 2]

Distraction is a powerful weapon in the devil’s arsenal.  And if distraction is Satan’s white noise, then busyness is his sniper rifle.  He picks us off moment by moment with each act of selfishness, each act of pride, each act of apathy.  Busyness aims for our hearts, so we need to be vigilant against his schemes and slip on and tightly buckle the breastplate of truth, because, as Solomon offered in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Including our capacity to listen.   But we have to remember that, as children of God, we possess the power to come against anything the devil throws at us.  As Paul instructed in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  The Spirit gives us self-discipline.  Self-discipline to listen.  Self-discipline to obey.  Self-discipline to pray.  Self-discipline to quiet ourselves before God, enter His throne room, and acknowledge Who He is, a privilege bought for us by the blood of His Son.  And the Spirit gives us self-discipline to be still.  To love the silence.  “Be still, and know that I am God,” the Psalmist quoted God in Psalm 46:10a (NIV).  In the New American Bible translation, the same line is translated “Desist!  and confess that I am God.”  Desist, God says, as in cease, stop, quit it!   And the Message translation puts it this way: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.”  “Stop!” God is saying to us, “Stop with your busyness, stop with your self-focus, stop with your fretting, your distractedness, your small-mindedness, and confess and acknowledge that I am God!”

 

The Lord said [to Elijah], “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

–1 Kings 19:11-13

 

God’s voice comes in a whisper.  No wonder we complain we never hear it.  He desires a dialog with us, not a monolog.  He desires to show us His glory, and when we recognize His glory and tell others about it, He is glorified.  And we are satisfied.  But to hear God’s voice, we have to learn how to love the silence.  Patiently.

I admit I struggle with patience, and I sometimes have a hard time waiting for the Lord to provide guidance, direction, and timing.  Once I asked God what my greatest sin was.  “Impatience,” He replied.  I heard His voice loud and clear, but, sadly, patience and I still don’t see each other eye-to-eye.  I’ve wrecked cars because of impatience, lost a ton of money because of impatience, suffered through a bad first marriage and worse divorce because of impatience.  But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is very clear: those who waited on the Lord with an attitude of patient expectation received the Lord’s promises.  And when they didn’t wait, well, the Bible is full of examples of folks jumping the gun.  One of the most remarkable is the story of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael.  In Genesis 15, God promised Abram he’d be the father of nations, a people as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach.  But when Sarai didn’t conceive right away, she grew impatient, and in Genesis 16 she urged Abram, already in his mid-80’s, to sleep with the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar.  Of course, Abram complied.  The result: Ishmael, “a wild donkey of a man” according to the angel of the Lord in Genesis 16:11.  Isaac finally came along when Abram, who’s name God changed to Abraham, reached 100.  God kept His promise to bless Abraham’s descendants, and while Ishmael received God’s blessing, God established the covenant with Isaac, who fulfilled God’s promise at the appointed time.

After Pharaoh finally relented and commanded Moses and Aaron to take the Israelite people and leave Egypt, God led the Hebrews out of the land of their 430-year slavery along the desert road instead of through the land of the Philistines, until He commanded them to camp next to the Red Sea.  The Israelites found themselves with desert behind them and the Red Sea in front of them, and for all intents and purposes, they had their backs against the wall when the king of Egypt changed his mind about letting his slaves go and sent his chariots after the Hebrews to recapture them.

Immediately the Israelites, numbering more than 600,000, cried out to God and started complaining to Moses:  “’What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?  Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”?  It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” (Exodus 14:11b-12 NIV).  As their slave mentality oozed from God’s chosen people, Moses looked past the physical impossibility of their situation and exhorted them to continue to trust the God who had freed them from Egyptian slavery.  But instead of calling for action, Moses urged the Hebrews to do the opposite:  “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV).

You need only to be still.  And when they kept still, the Lord opened a passage through the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through to safety on dry land.  When the Hebrews replaced fear with trust and held their ground, God performed one of the most spectacular miracles the world has ever known.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 30:15.  But in our society, rest, quietness, and trust are in short supply as we strive and struggle through everyday life just to keep up.  And isn’t that the trouble?  We strive to keep up.  But as adopted sons and daughters of the Most High King, there are only two commands God expects us to follow: love Him, and love each other.  That’s it.  “Live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear,” the apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle (1 Peter 1:17).  Love God, love each other, love yourself.  Rest, repent, trust.  Listen.  Learn to love the silence.

 

–THE END–

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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