Get to know Argyle Fox author Sarah Ann May, author of There Is Always Hope.
When, where, and why did you start writing? Do you have a writing routine?
I have never thought of myself as a writer until recently, because I never really thought a writer could be just someone who writes. To me, a writer had to be someone who wrote stories—good stories, and knew where commas are supposed to go. I am not and may never be someone who can conjure up good fiction, and I am still hopeless with commas! However, I have always been one with thoughts and responses and questions, and seven years ago those things made me a writer.
My husband and I were in the midst of marital turmoil. Through counseling, my pastor encouraged me to begin writing down everything—from fears, struggles, and frustrations to prayers, answers, and successes. This journaling eventually became a thirty-day writing project about finding hope. Because it was a story I wasn’t ready to share with the world, I began a private blog. After the thirty days, that blog became the place I wrote more than just the day-to-day fun of our three boys that my family blog contained.
Eventually, that private blog became public and was named An Inner Disposition. As a stay-at-home mom with three boys, I carved out every Wednesday morning to write something to be read by others on this little space. That tradition continues as I continue sharing my Happy Wednesdays each week.
What inspires you to write?
My biggest writing inspiration comes from two places: scripture and life. I realize those are pretty broad, so more specifically, I love to write about the emotion we feel in normal life situations and how God’s word speaks into them. We each are made up of such beautiful and unique thoughts, personalities, and emotional responses. It’s easy to either A) become frustrated because your emotions are different than someone else’s and you think they’re wrong OR B) sink into the emotions you feel because you assume ¨That’s just how you are,¨ when you may be causing harm to your heart or the heart of another. Honesty and vulnerability are hard to let others see, but it gives them the gift to go second. It confirms to others that no matter what they’re experiencing or feeling, they’re never alone.
Who are your favorite authors and what do you enjoy about their writing?
I wish I had a long list of impressive writers to make myself feel more intelligent or educated. My favorite books to read are children’s literature. Even when they write about difficult topics, there is always joy and compassion, without the vulgarity books for grownups often contain. L.M. Montgomery does this so well in her series about our favorite redhead, Anne Shirley. All the pain of loneliness and loss, embarrassment and disappointment are mixed with sheer joy and hope.
Even though children’s lit will forever be my favorite, there are quite a few non-fiction writers that have inspired my own writing because of their own skill of mixing real life emotion with God’s word. Madeleine L’Engle, Catherine Marshall, Paul David Tripp, Andrew Peterson, Frederick Buechner, A.W. Tozer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and N.T. Wright have written works I go back to again and again for encouragement in my own faith.
Where did you get the idea for There Is Always Hope?
There Is Always Hope was inspired by my own difficult marital season and what God taught me through it. Yes, my struggle was initiated by an extramarital affair. However, I knew that even if others aren’t going through the same thing, they will go through something just as difficult for them that Hope needs to speak into.
Walk us through the process There Is Always Hope went through prior to reaching Argyle Fox Publishing.
There Is Always Hope was a multi-year process that I pray I don’t have to repeat with my next book! It started first as a thirty-day blog series and then became a book proposal that I attempted to get picked up at a large women’s writing conference. After being told my platform was not large enough to warrant serious offers, I was encouraged to finish the manuscript and let the story sell itself.
A year went by before God had enough of me ignoring Him, and I finally wrote the first draft. Three drafts and two amateur editors later, I attended another writing conference and was still told my platform wasn’t big enough. So it sat again for another year before I hired a semi-professional editor to give it another go over before I began the process of self-publishing. Thankfully, and by God’s merciful design, I did not begin that process on my own. A dear friend met Daniel Brantley from Argyle Fox Publishing and passed his information off to me. Even though fear kept me from reaching out for another few months, doing so was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, because now my book exists in the world!
Did you always think you had something special with There Is Always Hope or were there moments of doubt? Tell us about that.
Yes and yes! I think anything special comes with doubt, because that which is worthwhile and has the potential to bring Jesus to another is subject to someone trying to keep that from happening! Paul writes in Philippians 1:12 (ESV), ¨I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.¨ That is exactly how I felt from the very beginning of this project. Our lives are anything but insignificant and God brings purpose through our stories. I knew mine could help another, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t fight the doubts and fears that come from letting others into the innermost parts of my life and heart. Thankfully, in the midst of questioning myself, through my talents and my ability to help another, God continued to pursue me and placed other people in my life to encourage me so that I would say “Yes” to Him in this.
Who is your target audience for There Is Always Hope, and what is the book about?
This book is for those who find themselves in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation or feel overwhelmed with hopelessness and need the guidance of tangible tools to seek and find the promises of Hope. There is not one person on this earth who doesn’t understand the feeling of hopelessness. No age, race, ethnicity, or gender can escape the feeling that comes when you let circumstances control you and cause you to lose confidence in Christ. Matthew 12:21 says “…and in His name the Gentiles have hope.” This is not something meant for the holiest of holy people. Hope is a gift given to anyone who calls on His name. It’s a promise that can never be broken. There is Hope in any and every situation.
Hope, true biblical Hope, is unfailing. It is the eternal rest in His promises, in God’s promises, that will stay with you through the next thing and the next thing and the next, pouring into your heart, building up your faith, and drawing you into deeper relationship with Him. It is excitedly anticipating the fulfillment of God’s future blessing for you, His child, while living a life this side of Heaven. It is beauty given to us, but it is also, so often in our view during our hardest experiences, unreachable. This book, while including a personal narrative at the beginning of each chapter, will teach the reader to recognize hopelessness and understand Hope. Where to find it, Who Hope is, and the process your heart and mind go through in order to reach out and cling to it. But most importantly, There is Always Hope ends with the understanding that when you inevitably let go of Hope, it never lets go of you.
The cover is so beautiful! Tell us about the designer.
I had a great desire to have a cover so beautiful that even if the words inside were not good, at least the book would look pretty on a nightstand! The original vision was to have a burst of yellow coming from the darkness to signify how Hope bursts through our own dark places where hopelessness takes us. Christina Cook Dahn was able to capture that perfectly through her watercolor. My favorite part is that the look isn’t smooth but splotchy and rough because that is how life is. But in the midst of that bursts forth the light the Hope brings.
How did you find Argyle Fox Publishing, and what made you think we would be a good fit for your book?
I found Argyle Fox Publishing through the recommendation of a friend and knew immediately it would be a good fit based on my friend’s description of the company and the purpose for which it was created. Argyle Fox’s desire is to help writers get the works into the world without taking on significant financial baggage or intense emotional strain. After my first phone conversation with Daniel from Argyle Fox, my fears and tensions immediately began to alleviate. All I felt was relief and a little disbelief that this long-waiting baby could actually be born!
What do you wish you’d known about the publishing process before getting started?
The biggest thing I wish I had known about the publishing world as an entity is how financially driven it is and how much your popularity is taken into account well above your writing skill. I spent way too much time comparing myself to others and assuming I had to be just like them to get published, which to me meant I would NEVER get published!
However, what I wish I knew about the self-publishing process was how easy it is to complete when you surrender your work to another with the gifts and talents to finish the job. I could never have done this on my own, at least not as efficiently and beautifully or with all my sanity!
Within the first few weeks after publishing There Is Always Hope, you made back all of your costs and then some. In the world of self-publishing, this is not normal. How did you do it?
One of the most valuable lessons I learned during all those writing conferences was the importance of having a team around you and the need to market your project. I am not a fan of self-marketing, but I am a fan of helping others, and I knew this book would do that. So I continually shared my message on social media. Posting updates on the process of creating this project helped others know what was going on and got them excited about reading it. As I got closer to the actual publication date, I had a team of friends and family read the book and share it with others, while I did the same. I have a longer list of ideas that did not get completed because of time, exhaustion, and life, but I’m so thankful for all who have heard about it, purchased it, read it, and shared it. Above all, I know that God is Sovereign over all, and anyone who reads about Hope is doing so because He has planned for that to happen. I pray that God continues to let this book have its own little grassroots movement so that it gets in the hands of those who need it most.
Do you have another book in the works?
I do have another book idea that I would love to start planning soon. It involves the ideas of individual purpose and gifting and how we are each Anything But Insignificant, no matter how big or small we view our influence. However, I’m halfway through getting my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, so the majority of my writing time is spent on papers and not pleasure. I believe these two will one day be mutually beneficial to the other, but for now my writing for enjoyment is completed in stolen time only, and I truly miss it!
Where can people find you online to keep up with your writing?
Thank you so much for trusting Argyle Fox Publishing with your book baby. We’re thrilled that you’re thrilled and wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
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