Spencer Stephens

Author of 'Church of Golf.' Also a student of nearly everything.

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 2)

Judge the Cover

The cover art for ‘Church of Golf’ is complete. Getting the right combination of pictures and text that said to prospective readers ‘this is a funny and touching story about a guy whose life was broken and he fixed it with golf’ was not easy. I hope you approve.


More to come soon, no doubt.

The Joy of Being Almost Done

People tend to get a giddy when a project they’ve worked on for almost three years is nearly complete.

This week, I’ve been making final changes to the ‘Church of Golf’ manuscript based upon comments from the handful of folks who have read it and shared comments. I’ve been narrowing choices for cover art. And I’ve been thinking that the target release date for October 15 might be realistic.

Tremendous thanks to Alan Mairson and to Lynda DeWitt for their extensive and insightful comments. As book editors, they are both first rate.

When the text is submitted to the publisher late this week/early next week, they say they’ll have proofs for me to review within 10 days. When I get the proofs for review, the book will be all laid out — chapter numbers, page headers, the title page and everything will in place. Once I approve the publisher’s cover art, they’ll have the cover work complete in about 10 days. After that, the book comes available in hard copy and in Kindle format on Amazon and then, soon after, in other outlets including the books section of iTunes. Folks can go to Amazon, click a button and in two days, ‘Church of Golf’ will show up in their mailbox — or it will appear on their Kindle or iPad (if they have the Kindle app) in nothing flat.

Usually I get up early in the morning and work on my manuscript before going to the office. Getting out of bed is pretty easy because so much positive energy is bubbling to the surface. Convincing myself to go to work is getting hard because it takes time away from finishing my book. It’s exciting to think that the text I’m massaging will be in hard copy and available soon. It’s exciting to think that there may be newspapers and magazines that will run book reviews or that there might be somebody riding the subway in New York reading ‘Church of Golf’ and the person next to him sees the cover and says “So what’s that book about?”

I have this recurring fantasy where I get an email from Dave Matthews, Bill Murray, Morgan Freeman or somebody else that’s awesome and they say “Dude, your book really spoke to me.”

More to come soon, no doubt.



How Does it Look?

This morning, my publisher sent me a first draft of the cover art for ‘Church of Golf.’ It was a nice start. It had the bright green grass in the background like I wanted. It had the title arranged like I wanted, but the font used for the title made the book look like a church bulletin — totally the wrong ‘feel.’ Back to the drafting board with some more edits.

Seeing the draft cover makes the final product feel real and close at hand. I’ve spent much of the past two-and-a-half years throwing text into a deep hole, waiting for signs it was filling up. Only recently have I seen those signs — such as seeing the cover art and listening to readers tell me how much they liked the ending of the story.


When You Realize You’re an Idiot

In preparing to publish ‘Church of Golf,’ I read that it’s wise to have your manuscript reviewed and commented upon by at least 10 people. I also read that it was a really good idea to have it reviewed by a professional editor who, for a fee, would review and comment on your manuscript.

So that’s what I did.

To do so, I had to resist my instincts. I had completed what I thought was a darn good first draft in March 2014. I had been over it and over it until I was sick of my own work. It seemed tight and clear and ready for an audience to fall in line to buy a copy. (Thought to self: “Editors? I don’t need no stinking editors.”)

I have since learned that most experienced writers and editors refer to this as the ‘shitty first draft.’ Even though the author has opened a vein and put himself into his work, people with knowledge of these things expect the need for substantial changes when the author thinks he’s done. They expect your first draft to suck. They expect newbies (i.e., guys like me me) not to know these things and to have emotional difficulty learning and accepting them.

And they would be exactly right.

Continue reading

Welcome — 1st Post

Welcome to my blog. Initially, this is all about the steps a newbie author takes in getting his first novel published. Later, I hope this blog turns into a description of what happens when you become a published author.

The work so far has been not only challenging but has given me quite an education.

Working with Saint Pete Press, I am finalizing arrangements for publishing ‘Church of Golf,’ my first novel. Target date for availability of the book, both in hard copy and e-versions, is October 15, 2014.

Dust Jacket Blurb about ‘Church of Golf‘:

Donald O. Gibson screwed the pooch on what should have been a sweet life. Donald and his fabulous blond hair found fame and success too easy and too early. He starred as a football player for the University of Maryland and brought his alma mater its first national championship. Out of college, he prospered as a celebrity salesman. Women came to his Ford showroom and lingered. Men idolized him. But he took his good fortune for granted and it all went to hell. By his mid-forties, he’s deep in debt, drunk, lumpy around the middle and sucking for air.

Donald makes a life-changing choice when the aunt who raised him dies and leaves him a unique bequest: he can have her fortune and her house on Lanai, the smallest of the occupied Hawaiian islands,  but only if he remains on the island for three years. He moves into what he thinks is a community of religious kooks and discovers that golf, his passion, is the village religion. For Donald, the way back looks like a tap-in putt. It turns out to be a slippery, downhill four-footer that runs thirty yards past the hole. Donald resigns himself to years of involuntary quietude and is befriended by villagers from all along the spectrum of oddity. King Kalakaua goose steps about the village golf course, believing he is descended from Hawaiian royalty and is the rightful ruler of the island. Fundamentalist Wendy Walker preaches that God gave his only son so that Christians could chip and putt like champions. Ramona is a naive teen who can drive a ball two-hundred and sixty yards and, unlike most of the villagers, plays with competitive heat. And there is Bobby Joe Fu, a Chinese-North Carolinian, former seminarian and failed touring pro – the village’s spiritual leader – who makes Donald’s rehabilitation his personal mission.

Church of Golf touches on themes every golfer will recognize: failure, hope, struggle and redemption. It also affirms what every golfer knows to be true: Learning to golf well is learning to live humbly.

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