Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TouchPoint Press to publish "The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God"

I have the pleasure of announcing that TouchPoint Press is publishing my memoir "The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God."  The contracts were amended and signed last Friday.  Now we are in business.  The publisher, Sheri Williams, hopes to release the book sometime during the summer of 2014.

The remarkable thing about the deal is that I wasn't even looking for a publisher.  I was in the process of pitching the book to agents.  Generally speaking, I try not to approach agents and publishers at the same time.   (Or agents and production companies, when it comes to scripts.)  Agents tend to be less excited about handling a book if twenty publishers have already read it.  I found Sheri's name on a list of literary agents.  However, the list was out of date.  She was no longer an agent.  She left the world of agents to become the publisher of TouchPoint Press.  She read my pitch and requested to read it for TouchPoint.  A few weeks later she wrote back saying that she loved the book and immediately offered me a contract.  I let my brain trust, including an established author who is also now a publisher, read the contract.  They thought it was very generous, and, after some minor negotiations, I signed the deal.


Frankly I am amazed I even wrote the book.  It is a strange piece.  Part memoir.  Part testimony.  Part coming of age saga.  Part theodyssey.  Part love story.  Part suicide primer.  My first attempt to write the book came in April/May 1983.  The whole book came to me on a spring afternoon while driving home from visiting a very special girl named Kathy Gardiner at her college.  Despite having perhaps the sweetest weekend of my life, I drove home knowing our relationship was irrevocably doomed.  I also realized I was at the tail end of an extraordinary spiritual experience.  I wanted to document the events of the previous six years while they were still fresh in my memory.   I only got a handwritten few pages into the book, which I then called "The Autobiography of a Believer," before quitting.  The days were too dark and the wounds were too fresh to have the proper perspective.

The second attempt came about five years later -- soon after I had learned of Kathy's marriage.  I was very happy she had found someone she loved.  Now I felt I had the perspective to give my testimony of first faith and first love and how the two had become nearly fatally intertwined.   Once again, I only got a few typewritten pages into the introduction before stopping.  I used my concern for Kathy's privacy as a reason to stop because there was no way to give my testimony without mentioning her.  However, in reality, it was my own privacy I was concerned about.  Despite my gregarious exterior, I am an extremely private person.  This story would reveal everything in my life I held secret.  I was incapable of opening up enough to tell the story.  It's just as well.  The tale wasn't over.  There was still more darkness to come before the healing sunrise.

The final, and successful, attempt to write this book came in the wake of my death on the operating table in August of 2011 and a long illness that followed.  That taste of morality gave me the perspective to see what a wonderful life I had, and how I needed everything that happened previously -- both good and bad -- to make me who I am.  But it still took more than that revelation to write the book.  I felt myself under great pressure from God to do so.  The book is about how God had guided me at crucial points in my life and he was guiding me now.  He was putting a great deal of pressure on me to write it.  And he had to do so in order to overcome my intense desire for emotional privacy.   Eventually his will overcame mine and I wrote the book.  It was a great experience.  It freed me emotionally.  I believe I am a better husband, (step)father, son, brother and friend as a result.   Frankly, it was irrelevant to me whether the book ever got published.  It was satisfying enough to write it and let the people closest to me read it.  However, I decided to pitch it, and let the Lord find a publishing home for it if he so desired.  And it seems like he did.

My wife and I.
I would like to acknowledge some of the people who made this book possible.  I want to start with my lovely wife and first reader Deborah, who was very supportive of me during the process despite some pronounced mood swings I reportedly underwent during the writing.  But mostly I want to thank her for giving my life a very happy ending indeed.  I also want to thank my friend Trish Schweers.  My chief critic and literary advisor for over twenty-five years, Trish never lets me get away with anything less than my best.  She helped me trim about one hundred pages of unnecessary diversions and dead-ends.  She also knew me well-enough to push for even more emotional truth in places.  Next I would like to thank David & Patty Gehret.  David is my pastor at Stillmeadow Evangelical Free Church, and I played through the theological implications of the book with him.  His wife Patty ran a very thorough red pencil through the manuscript and helped me focus it.  Many of my early readers, both new friends and old, also provided me valuable assistance and wisdom.  I also want to thank the late Stuart Robinson, who represented me at Robinson, Weintraub and Gross and later Paradigm.  Although Stu died long before this book was written, his faith in my writing gave me the confidence to continue in my craft and made me feel like the A-Listers to whom he sent my scripts.

Tracy Lindsey Melchior
I must also thank the actress Tracy Melchoir, the star of my film "Hidden Secrets."  She had written a powerful memoir called Breaking the Perfect 10.  She gave me an astute lesson on the ethics, morality and legalities of writing a memoir.  Not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings with my book, I intended to show it to everyone I mentioned.  She persuaded me otherwise.  She said my goal should be to tell about my life from my perspective.  If I showed the book to others and incorporated their opinions, I would be telling the story of my life from their perspectives, not mine.  Good point.  She told me I just had to have the courage to take the angry phone calls afterwards.  Fortunately, I really didn't have many bad things to say about anyone -- except myself -- so hopefully there will be few calls.

That said, I must thank some folks for talking about the old days with me.  Jim Jackson, my homeboy who walked alongside me during the most crucial times in this book, got the most late night calls.  He was very helpful putting events in the proper context and filling in some details I couldn't remember.   He was not alone.  Thank God for FaceBook.  I am very fortunate to have friends from every stage of my life and a few of them got late night IMs during the writing of this book.  But I want to give special thanks to my niece Natalie, who sat down and discussed the night my sister died.  We had never discussed it during the previous twenty years.   Despite Tracy's sage advice, I offered Natalie the opportunity to edit the chapter.  Her suggestions and contributions made the story much more powerful.

Nat and I.
Finally, I want to thank God.  I truly consider this his book and he can do with it what he will.

To God the glory!

And the royalties to my wife.

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