3 Questions Wednesday with Martin Wiles

Martin Wiles joins us this week. Before we get to know him, how’s it going with you and your goals for the new year? Stay after it, hard-work, focus and discipline will help you accomplish many things this year. Now, let’s get to know Martin and how he has worked to achieve in his writing.

Martin Wiles lives in South Carolina and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister, and author who serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World, released in December 2019.

Let’s get to know a little more about Martin. For starters, what do you love most about the writing process? The least?

Martin: The least is easy: marketing. I would imagine this is every writer’s least favorite thing to do. We’d rather sit down and pen the words than have to promote what we have written or had published. Unfortunately, marketing is a vital part of the writing process, so I suck it up, make a regular schedule, decide where and how I will promote my writing, and get busy. Consistency is the key. After all, I’m the only person—unless I pay someone—that I can count on to do this with regularity. And like most writers, I have limited funds. So, I rarely pay anyone to promote my writing, and I take advantage of every free resource I know about.

My favorite thing is the freedom to put my thoughts on paper when and where I want, and to know they have the potential to be read the world over, hopefully changing lives in the process. Each day, I check my Blogger statistics to see how many people have visited my website and read my post and to see which countries they reside in. I am very humbled when I see how God uses me and how He uses other writers in ways we could never imagine. Technology has opened numerous doors for writers.

You are not alone with marketing challenges. The industry is changing and whether or not you self-publish, the author has a big role in marketing. Next question, describe your writing space.

Martin:  My writing space began as a secluded spot in my quiet office. Currently, it is nestled in a part of our small patio townhome between the den and the dining room. Since my children are grown and gone—and since the grandsons my wife keeps leave after supper—I have plenty of quiet time if I need it. My main time for writing, however, begins at 4:30 a.m. I’ve always been a morning person—my brain shuts down around 8:30 p.m.—so my inspiration comes before the sun rises. My desk is the bottom iron table on which once sat a sewing machine that belonged to my great-grandmother. The top is a thick piece of plywood that either my father or my grandfather mounted on it. It’s a small space, but with most everything I need stored on my laptop, I don’t require much space.


Click to Tweet: Marketing is a vital part of the writing process, so I suck it up, make a regular schedule, decide where and how I will promote my writing, and get busy. Consistency is the key.


It sounds like your desk alone carries a few stories. Were you a young-writer, late-bloomer, or somewhere in-between?

Martin: As a serious writer, I was a late bloomer. I suppose I wrote in school as every other child is required to do—and I wrote many papers in college—but writing in the genre I do now came much later. My writing in earnest started shortly after my dad died in 2009. What the connection was between his death and my writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I just know it began then. Dad was not a writer, except for his sermons, so I wasn’t following his example. I had written many sermons myself, but in 2009, I began writing devotions. Since then, I’ve branched out to nonfiction articles and two nonfiction books, but devotions are my mainstay.

Get to know more about Martin Wiles. Here’s how to best connect:


Just Released: A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Noisy World

Martin’s latest book A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Noisy World, combines his love for the outdoors and his passion for devotions. Since the “silence” of nature seems to be the place where God speaks the loudest to many people, he decided to filter through the many devotions he’s written and selected those that dealt with his hiking, backpacking, and camping experiences—especially those that had spiritual implications.

Available on Amazon, for purchase and download.

Devotion Writing: Journeying to Publication

By Martin Wiles

Every writer wants their name in the publication light—and better yet, to get paid for it. I was no different.

Prior to 2009, I had written little, and published even less. Just a few poems here and there, and only one that I remember getting paid for. Then my father unexpectedly died, and things changed. What connection his death had to my seriousness about writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I only know my attitude changed. The genre I chose was devotions. Not as popular as fiction, but read by many just the same. And I had enough experiences under my belt to write them.

But merely writing them wasn’t enough. If no one else read them, what was the purpose of doing what I felt God leading me to do? I began looking for places to submit my devotions, hoping to get a few published. If I got paid a little along the way, that would be great too.

Of course, I began with what I call the little g, Google. One of the first hits was a place named Christian Devotions. They didn’t pay, but pay didn’t concern me so much. I just wanted to do what God told me to do—and see my name in print somewhere as an added bonus.

Cindy Sproles was the executive editor of Christian Devotions, and, at the time, the ministry was small and she was helping writers develop their skills. Like most inexperienced writers, I thought my devotion was perfect as written the first time. She thought differently. I recall the gist of her response: “Martin, the heart of your devotion is good, but it needs work before it’s ready for publication.”

The work entailed more than I imagined. For one, I had to stop preaching. (At the time, I was a preacher.) I also had to avoid the “that” trap and stop using so much passive voice. After several revisions—revisions I thought I’d never finish—she finally accepted my devotion.

I continued to write for Christian Devotions and also to search for other places to submit my devotions. I had a few published along the way, and was even paid for some. I also became a member of the five o’clock club—the a.m. one. Six days each week, I wrote a devotion. Before I knew it, I had several years’ worth of devotions.

I need to write a book of devotions, I thought. Unfortunately, I knew little about the publishing industry or about the scams that circulate within it. I suppose the company I settled with for three books—two devotionals and one commentary—was close to what I now know as a vanity press. Although they didn’t charge me anything to publish my books—and they did design my covers and list my books on Amazon—they didn’t edit my work or do any marketing for me. I later discovered they accept almost any manuscript sent to them and publish it as is. Since the books were so large, the price was prohibitive. Apart from those I sold to individuals, only a couple were sold on Amazon. I needed another avenue.

Shortly after this fiasco, I attended Writer’s Boot Camp (now Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference), directed by Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones, co-founders of Christian Devotions website. Eddie had also begun a new adventure: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His heart’s desire was to help authors get started and to produce quality books from a small publishing house.

Having met Eddie at the conferences a couple of times, I decided to send him a manuscript—365 days’ worth of devotions. By this time, my writing had improved, and, amazingly, he accepted my manuscript … with limitations. A years’ worth of devotions was too much, the book would be too large and costly, and very few would buy it. He suggested we split it up into smaller portions, perhaps as many as three books. Then, he proffered a Southern theme that became Grits, Grace, and God in 2013 and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church in 2016.

I was excited, to say the least, because I knew he didn’t accept every manuscript sent his way. I also knew they assigned each contracted writer an editor to work with, that they designed nice covers, and that they performed a fair amount of marketing at no cost to the author.

My editor, and now a good friend, was ruthless, but kind. Together, we produced two books I was proud to put on the market.

While I’m proud of my list of publication credits—and thank God for each one—not everything I’ve written has been accepted. My rejection scroll rolls out much longer than my acceptance one does. Such as the historical novel I spent months writing and rewriting. No publisher will touch it. It now rests lovingly on one of my book shelves where it may never see the light of the publishing world.

I recently signed another devotional book contract with Ambassador International. I look forward to what God will do through this book and to the long process that will precede publication. One thing publication has taught me is patience.

Because I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, I now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey.

And that editor who bled all over the first devotion I sent her? I’m now her Managing Editor and helping other writers the same way she once helped me. And the CEO of the publishing company who published my first book? I’m now one of his assistant editors also. God surely works in mysterious ways.

Click to tweet: I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, and now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey. #devotions #amwriting


Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications.

 


Grits, Grace, and God

Grace & Grits & God offers personal insights and practical tips for dealing with life’s challenges, loses, and setbacks. As a pastor, Martin Wiles knows about tough times. He’s seen it in the faces of his parishioners—and his own. Find God’s spiritual truths in your daily challenges. Turn loses and setbacks into step-ups. Dish out blessings to others from your scraps. Show grit, love with grace, and trust God through the hard times and at all times.

Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church

If you’re struggling with the real meaning of going to church and following Christ, then Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church is for you. Martin Wiles has been in the pew or the pulpit his whole life. He has experienced the best and the worst in the church. He knows it can be a place of pain or a place of blessing.