These Are My Projects – What Are You Up To?

Recently I’ve had a few people ask me what I’ve been up to since moving back to Pennsylvania. I wrote a lot about the circumstances that brought us back here, and I explained that I was going to try to write for a living, but I kind of ended it at that.

Well, here are the projects that I’m working on, in no particular order:

1 – One project I’ve really enjoyed is a family history book compiling as many stories as I could from my Amish heritage, going all the way back to 16th-century Germany, following Nicholas Stoltzfus to the new world, and then looking creatively at the twists and turns that led to my existence. It includes a journal written by my great-great grandfather Amos King that covers three years of his life, from 1895 – 1897. The entire book is about 75,000 words, and I hope to self-publish it in the next few months.

(I’m really excited because the artist Freiman Stoltzfus has agreed to let me use one of his paintings for the cover, a portion of which makes up today’s picture in the upper right).

2 – “And Then We Danced” is a true story about the marriage of Mike and Fi Lusby. The chapters alternate, memoir-style, so that one chapter is told from the husband’s perspective, and the next is told from the wife’s perspective. The book begins with their childhoods (which for Mike involved growing up in an alcoholic home, and Fi grew up in an Amish-Mennonite home) and is told right up to the present day. This self-published book will be about 40,000 words and we hope to have it available in early December.

3 – “Bullet in the Brain” is the tentative title for a book I’m writing about a Navy SEAL. He took part in the Panama invasion in 1989 and was shot in the thigh and in the head, and was subsequently put in the expectant area – otherwise known as the dead pile. Completely lucid but unable to move or speak, he lay there watching people walk by, trying to get their attention.

The battle scene is intense, and his journey to recovery is a fascinating story full of heartache and perseverance. I hope to have this 55,000-word first draft completed by the end of October, at which point we will be seeking representation from a literary agent. If you or any agents you know are interested in finding out more about this story, please contact me.

4 – Earlier this year I wrote a book with a local business person. It is in early draft form and the timeline for publication is uncertain.

5 – Last year I wrote a book with Lily Isaacs, a country-gospel/bluegrass musician. Both of her parents survived the holocaust, and she’s a Jewish girl from New York City who sang folk rock until she met her hillbilly husband and started traveling to churches singing bluegrass. The last that I heard, this book is being considered by a few different publishers, but to be honest I’ve been kind of busy and lost track of that one. Lily, where are you? What’s going on?

6 – I finished the first draft of my very first novel!!! I’m excited to begin the revision process and haven’t decided yet if I’ll pursue an agent or self-publish in ebook form. Either way, I love the story and can’t wait to share more about it with you all very soon.

So that’s what I’m up to.

Tell us about your current project or newly published book in the comments below – go ahead, promote away!

30 Replies to “These Are My Projects – What Are You Up To?”

  1. Very exciting! Beautiful painting too! … We saw the Isaac’s when they came to Lebanon this Summer so I’m especially looking forward to reading Lily’s story.

    All of these positive and productive things are very motivating! Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Becky. Lily is such a sweet person, and her family were very kind when I traveled with them on the road. So much fun.

      1. National Memory Screening DayFree, confidential mermoy screenings for anyone concerned about mermoy loss and early Alzheimer’s disease detection and intervention, sponsored by Visiting Angels in cooperation with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.WHEN:Tuesday November 13 2012Noon 4pmWHERE:Avalon Missionary Church. 1212 Lower Huntington Rd. Fort Wayne IN 46819INFO:National Memory Screening Day is an annual initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). Visiting Angels is proud to be a partner in this important first step in finding out if someone has a mermoy problem, and in helping patients and families become aware of the resources and assistance that is available.While a mermoy screening is not a substitute for a consultation with a physician, it can help to determine whether additional testing is warranted. With as many as 5.1 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, and many more with mild cognitive impairment and dementia, early detection and intervention can be critical to making informed decisions for greater health and quality of life.For more information on mermoy screening and resources to assist with ageing in place, cognitive impairment, mild dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, contact Visiting Angels at 260-482-CARE (2273).

  2. Shawn, you so impress me with all that you do. Bravo, my friend.

    I am about 40,000 words into a draft of my book about the slaves who worked and lived on the farm where I now live and my dad now works. It will be some wacky new blend of fiction and nonfiction, I think.

    Thanks for the chance to share, Shawn.

  3. That is really phenomenal work Shawn! Very exciting and I really can’t wait to hear more about your novel!

    The Not Alone project that I edited is available for pre-order and goes live in just a few weeks. Yesterday I announced a new project with Civitas, this time searching for stories about overcoming fear and finding significance in the process (would love to see you contribute to this!). Also a few thousand words into what will probably be an ebook titled Band Bitch, after a conversation with my bandmates (I’m the meany in the group, even though that doesn’t amount to much since I’m not really THAT mean). Fun to write something a bit lighter after spending much of my summer writing and editing pieces about depression. It’s important, but it ain’t funny and I need some funny.

    I always love your blog, so I’m excited to read big long stuff by you!

    1. Thanks, Alise. I can’t wait to check out your longer projects, too. (I’ve had my eye on your newest Civitas project and am thinking about submitting something for your consideration – depends on how quickly I can wrap some of these up). If you read this comment, can you give us a link to the new Civitas project, in case anyone else out there is interested?

      1. Absolutely! If anyone is interested in submitting an essay for consideration for the Not Afraid project, you can download the project document here:

        We’re looking for pieces between 1000-2000 words. It’s non-compensatory, but your name will be in a book with an ISBN and Civitas tries to make sure that the contributors all receive a copy of the book.

        If anyone has any questions, my email addy is on my blog and in the project doc. Feel free to contact me!

  4. Very cool. I guess I tend to keep my writing life separate from my blog but perhaps I should find some way to merge it all together. I just finished helping a guy self-publish a book of prayers and am working on a collection of my own prayers and poems. I’m enjoying helping people the self-publishing world, and I guess that falls in line with my passion for editing, in a developmental sort of way.

  5. you are prolific, my friend. well done. and well doing.

    i’ll be penning the blog in book form soon. i’ve got new material set aside that hasn’t been/won’t be on the blog, so people who’ve been with me from the beginning will have something new to read, too.

    1. That sounds like fun stuff, Sharideth. I feel like you’ve been turning it up a notch lately (especially in the Tweeting realm – I read your recent tweets to my wife last night and we were cracking up). I’m intrigued to see the content you’ve been withholding. Keep up the good work.

  6. Quite the impressive list. I’ve started outlining some ideas for a memoir of sorts taking a look at how my faith has shifted from high school through the end of seminary. Hoping to find some insights that others could find helpful. But that’s about as far as I’ve come on that.

    1. That would be an interesting read, Kellen. Even if you’re not ready to start the bulk of the writing, start jotting down notes and topics as they come to mind – I’ve found this to be very helpful.

  7. Hi Shawn,
    Jim Ogle suggested I contact you as we have much in common. Jim and I worked for the same company for many years – I retired 11 years ago. In the latter part of my career I earned a doctorate in psychology and certificates in writing. Then after retiring I began to write novels. Until recently I self-published throught Outskirts Press. Now I have a publisher – Patriot Media, Inc., Florida. Your latest book project sounds like a fit for them (

    1. Thanks for reaching out to me, Tom. I’m looking forward to seeing Jim next week in Frederick, Maryland. Thanks also for suggesting Patriot Media – once I have a handle on the first draft, I will get in touch with them.

      All the best


  8. Truly an inspiration Shawn! My first nonfiction, self-published book titled “A Question of Faith” is 30,000 words and is an accessible introduction to comparative religion. It will be available on November 8th in both softcover and via Kindle. Other e-reader formats will follow.

    I’m currently finishing up a companion workbook/study guide for the book that can be used in small groups or by an individual.

    I then plan on interviewing an “expert” from each of the six major world faiths, recording my teleconference with them and then offering those downloadable audio files with transcripts (bundled with several pre-1923 open copyright books) as a home study course.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share here!

  9. Wow, Shawn! I had no idea you had that many buns in the oven. I’m truly impressed.

    I’m at 40,000 words on my first novel. Hoping to finish it up in the next month or so. And then we’ll see!

  10. Great projects Shawn!
    Makes tried reading about them and thinking about juggling them … I can’t imagine how you must feel.

    I’m finished a memoir, Because I Can, last year. It won a publishing contest at Rhizome earlier this year. It is now available for pre-order and will be shipping in about two weeks.

  11. Goodness, Shawn! You’re a very busy, very productive man! Congratulations to you on all those wonderful projects!

    I have a wee little blog that not too many people read, but it’s growing. Stoked to have an essay in Alise’s Not Alone book.

    Tell me if you think this is a viable notion:

    I’m considering doing an eBook that details–to some degree–my adventures in blogging over the last year, but more specifically will be about my struggles for acceptance, and fought through rejection to get where I am today. About how I lost community–my family, friends, accountability group–in real life, but found it again in the blogosphere. I’m thinking of calling it The “Hate” Is Free, But I’m Not Cheap: Community Lost, and Found

    The “Hate” comes of course from my semi-popular Wednesday series, where I pour “haterade” on another blogger (which just me highlighting someone else’s work in a humorous way). The I’m not cheap part has to do with the intrinsic value I have (though I didn’t always believe it) because God made me in His image.

  12. Hi Shawn, my buddy Ryan Olah suggested I track you down. From a quick look at your blog we have a lot in common. I’d love to talk sometime about making writing a living and other paradoxes. :) As far as what I’m working on – I am in a final revision stage (4th draftish) of my first novel. I am working with a small publisher and a great editor who is helping me streamline my 95,000 word book. It’s the first of a trilogy – sort of fantasy I suppose. I like to think it has more in common with the Madeleine L’Engle time quartet than other more “modern” fantasy. I live in Lancaster. My blog is very out of date – seeing that yours is active and interactive inspires me to get back to it. Peace.

Comments are closed.