Since A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stimulate the Mind and Delight the Spirit was released in May 2011, the book’s writers have participated in more than 150 readings and signings in seven provinces.
A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is an all-Canadian book that is receiving five-star reviews. The inspirational collection of stories by writers who share a Christian faith perspective contains short fiction, poetry, and personal experience articles, all of which provide hope and encouragement. [See more about the extensive cross-Canada launch.]
The book signings continue, and they’re listed on the Meet Us page of the hotapplecider.ca website. If there’s one near you, drop in to say hello!
In the January/February 2012 issue of Faith Today, reviewer Violet Nesdoly wrote, “Though the writing styles are varied, the book [A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider] was skilfully edited to preserve the individual voices while providing a smooth read.” [Faith Today review, part one and part two.]
The anthology’s co-editors, N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles, did an amazing job of pulling the selections together, and they’ve taken time to answer a few questions:
Janet: A year ago now, you were both putting in some incredibly long hours to get the book ready for print. The initial work had started in August 2010, and for four months (October/10 to January/11), you were working seven days a week. You barely took time off for Christmas or New Years. This is the second volume of Hot Apple Cider, and you knew what you were getting into. What made you believe so strongly in the project?
NJL: Back in 2007, I was very frustrated because there were so few Christian books being published in Canada and there was very little support. When the opportunity arose to work with World Vision Canada, to have Canadian books given out at their events, I was determined to find a way to do it. That led to Hot Apple Cider in 2008, which was written by 30 authors who had already published books.
However, I really wanted to have an open call for stories so that newer or unpublished writers could have a chance to be included. I knew that if the opportunity to produce a second book arose I would grab it. It was a terrific opportunity to help a whole bunch of new writers learn about the editing and promotion process, not to mention having their voices heard. And it also means another great book going out to readers.
WEN: We believe strongly in the project because of all the many benefits it creates. We’ve showcased 60 Canadian writers who write from a Christian faith perspective in the two books. The first book became a Canadian bestseller, and the second book is well on its way. Mainstream stores like Chapters/Indigo are willing to stock it and hold book signings. Christian book retailers are becoming more aware of Canadian writers.
Janet: I know from personal experience that you didn’t just take whatever stories people turned in (my first submissions didn’t make the cut). Briefly, what submission criteria helped you choose the best of the best?
NJL: The pieces had to fit our themes, they had to be new (not reprints), they had to have originality and good writing, and the writers had to be willing to make changes and, ultimately, to trust us—or at least be willing to dialogue with us if they disagreed with a change we suggested.
Janet: Many of the final selections came in much rougher form than readers see in the book. The two of you make a formidable and effective editing team. I’ve heard contributors say they wished all their publishers edited like you do. Not only does this give a stronger result, in some cases it’s an investment in the development of new writers.
NJL: Thanks for your comments. Yes, there was a lot of editing. I’d say maybe 10 to 15% of the pieces required only minimal work on our part. Several final pieces actually involved combining two (in one case, three) smaller pieces. A number were almost completely rewritten or reordered. But we didn’t mind investing our time and energy if we felt the writers were learning, and of course, if we felt the resulting book would be great.
We could have rejected pieces that needed a lot of work, or picked more pieces that were okay but not great, or we could have gone in and made the changes on our own, but we wanted the writers to be involved in every part of the process, so they would understand the many facets of good editing, from concept through substantive, fact-checking, copy-editing, and proof-reading.
WEN: Publishing the two Hot Apple Cider books is being done for higher purposes. N.J. and I both invested much of the past decade in founding and building The Word Guild and directing the Write! Canada writers’ conferences, and working on these books is being done with the same vision, the same passion and philosophy. Our goals are to bring glory to the God we serve, to help readers who need to read these books, to strengthen the Canadian Christian writing and publishing community, to develop members of The Word Guild to become better writers, and to raise the bar of professionalism.
So we were willing to invest vastly more time and energy into the editing process than any other “commercial” publisher would, whether secular or Christian. From a strictly business or financial viewpoint, publishers can no longer afford the intensive editing and mentoring of promising writers that we were willing to do. So the Hot Apple Cider books are unique projects, which the publishers Les and N. J. Lindquist who own That’s Life! Communications were willing to do.
NJL: As to how we work, I tend to lean more toward the bigger picture things such as concept editing, substantive editing and general flow, while Wendy is much better at seeing inconsistencies, fact checking, grammar, and details in general.
WEN: We both did all the levels of editing, from developmental down to copy editing, on all the pieces. But we each came at the pieces from different viewpoints, experiences and skill sets, so we each would spot different things. It’s a prime example of the teamwork The Word Guild has been trying to exemplify since its inception 10 years ago. And it proves the old adage, two heads are better than one.
NJL: Wendy and I each read and discussed each piece, then we each did first edits on about half. I did the poetry and short stories and some of the non-fiction while Wendy stuck to first edits on non-fiction. Then we switched and each did a second edit of the one the other had done first edit on. Then each piece went to the writer, who could agree or disagree, add or delete as suggested, and so forth. Then we did the process a second time, and then a third time, each time getting more detailed and hopefully having fewer and fewer things to change or correct. This went on until all three of us were satisfied (Wendy, me, and the writer).
WEN: Some pieces went through three “back and forths” with the writer to get to the final version, others went through seven or eight.
Janet: I’m not sure where you found time to write, but you each contributed a piece for the anthology as well. Was it difficult editing one another’s work without that second, impartial editor?
[For NJ’s and Wendy’s answers to this and more, read the rest of the interview.]
Thanks for the opportunity to do the interview, Janet. It’s always interesting to look back at where we’ve come from, and now see that the results have been five star reviews and many satisfied readers.
Thank you for being such a great member of the Hot Apple Cider team. It was a pleasure working with you, and a delight to see your writing develop so beautifully.
Wendy, I think “team” is a key word on this anthology project. There’s a definite team sense and it adds a huge amount of energy even still, as contributors share news of signings and reader feedback. Good teams have good leaders, and your and NJ’s editorial leadership is a large chunk of why this book from 37 Canadian writers maintains our unique voices but blends into a consistently good read.
A recent advert for the two Hot Apple Cider books called them “Gifts that Keep On Giving”. This is exactly how I feel about being a contributor to A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider! Not only did NJ Lindquist and Wendy Nelles go through countless cycles of constructive reviews, but they have also “mentored” the entire team of contributors step by step through the publication process, from first draft submissions to proofs, printing, distribution, media releases, launch events, study helps, – and beyond! The story is not over yet, with e-books and other material still to come. What a learning experience, especially for a first-time writer like me! Thank you for this amazing gift that truly “keeps on giving”.
I second Marguerite’s thanks for the mentoring and teaching!
Am blushing here! Thanks, Janet and Marguerite, for the very kind comments. We’re very pleased with the book, and the truth is it was great fun to see the wonderful stories and poems coming in, and to feel the contributors’ excitement as we reached the final stages and realized we really did have something good.
And thanks to Eric Spath from World Vision Canada who gave us the opportunity to have 30,000 of our books going out with their Girls Night Out and Couples Night Out programs, which made both Hot Apple Cider books possible.
And I’ve stood back in awe as many of the contributors have sent stories of how/where they’ve sold books and people’s positive responses.
Being part of such a great team rocks! Everybody needs a team. 🙂