The Saga of My Book

I understand that some people find it irritating that I’ve plugged my book here. But it’s my blog, so I get to do with it what I want. And there’s nothing wrong with plugging something I’m proud of.

The book has its origins in a conversation I had with a friend in which I told him a story from my mission when my companion and I had found what we thought was a dead body on a bridge on a bitterly cold winter night in La Paz, Bolivia. My friend said I should write it down, so I wrote about it here on my blog. For whatever reason, I couldn’t stop writing. For five weeks I wrote 2-3 hours a night chronicling everything I could remember about my mission.

There’s a lot of self-censorship involved in sharing missionary stories with other Mormons. It’s acceptable to tell faith-promoting stories and funny stories, but it’s not OK to talk about the difficult times, the soul-crushing experiences. So, for the first time in my life, I started writing about everything, good and bad. It all just came pouring out. Naturally it wasn’t very polished, but my purpose wasn’t to do something literary, but just to get it out of my system.

I have a few friends who are writers and editors, and one of my friends, Mina, urged me to edit the posts into a coherent narrative and publish it. Maybe I was just flattered that someone I consider an amazing and gifted writer liked what I had done, but I spent the next several months editing the book. Another friend, Tyler, a professional editor, volunteered to edit the book. He did a fantastic job, and I am very happy with what we ended up with.

I shopped it around to publishers, but there wasn’t a lot of interest; let’s face it, a missionary memoir has a limited audience. But I wanted to get it out there, just to say I’d done it. But the bigger problem was that some of my family members were very upset about the book, I think partly because it’s so intensely personal but also because it isn’t relentlessly positive in its description of Mormonism and missions. To reduce the conflict in my family, I held off publishing, and the book sat for three years.

I’m not sure what’s changed, but I’ve felt recently that I needed to publish it. Probably the catalyst was that my son read the book and loved it. He said he thought it was a shame that I hadn’t published it. Yes, I would have preferred to publish it through a “real” publisher, but this is good enough.

So, no apologies. I am happy with my book, and I’m glad other people have enjoyed reading it. And in case you missed it, it’s available for everything from Kindle to iPod to PC:

Heaven Up Here

It should be available for the Nook in the next day or so, and when that happens, I’ll post the details.

Thanks again, everyone, for supporting me. It means a lot.

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10 Responses to The Saga of My Book

  1. Faith says:

    No one has the right to complain about your plugging your book on your blog. Sheesh! And as soon as it’s available for nook, I’ll buy a copy.

    Wishing you lots of success!!!

    • runtu says:

      I’m not bothered, though I was a bit surprised. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m not “hawking” anything. Just happy to have it out there.

  2. Diane Sower says:

    I’ll download it on my Nook as fast as my wee little fingers will allow me to. What fun!!

  3. mcarp says:

    My only problem was doing the math required for Runtu == John Williams. 🙂

    Bought the book and I’m about 3 chapters in. So far, I like it. I was about 5 years ahead of you (and a slacker’s stateside mission, but at least it was 24 months!) and your stories ring true to my experience.

    Thanks. I can only imagine what a battle it is to get something like this published.

    The detail from your journal is great. I’ll never have that opportunity, since my journals were lost in one of the 9 moves we’ve made since we’ve been married… 😦 Although, to be honest, my journals seemed painful to read after 5-10 years.

  4. kuri says:

    Congratulations on finishing your book. Just FYI, Joe Konrath’s blog has a ton of good advice about ebooks and self-publishing.

  5. Dan Nuffer says:

    I’ve got my copy! I’m glad you decided to go through with this.

  6. runtu says:

    Thanks everyone! I had to laugh that it’s currently just ahead of the LDS Triple Combination on Amazon’s rankings. I guess I’m more popular than the scriptures! (just kidding)

  7. Andrew Waters says:

    I would love to read your book but do not own a Kindle. Is it available in paperback or for download some other way, by chance?

    I also served in Bolivia (Sta. Cruz, Trinidad, and Guayara-merin, 99-01) and what you described in your post completely resonates with me. I experienced absolutely wonderful and painfully horrible times. Being part of a church that only tolerated only the faith-promoting part was, to be honest, suffocating.

    • runtu says:

      You can download it to an iPod or cell phone or PC. You just have to download the free Kindle app for it. I was in Trinidad and Guayeramerin, so part of the book covers those two towns.

  8. Diane Sower says:

    I’m still having technical challenges downloading it since it won’t go onto my nook. I’ll keep trying…

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