Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Get Your Falling Free Bonus Freebies!

When Summer vacation began, roughly two-and-a-half blinks ago, I had resolved to be "done" writing for a while. And I was, and I have been, and it has been absolutely glorious to have a break and to not stress about finding time to work while my kiddos are be-bopping around the house, causing all manner of chaos and cuteness.

But I have had some stuff to do, and at first it took me off guard, like, "Waaaait a minute, why am I staying up late doing stuff when I'm not supposed to be doing anything?"

I had hit the busy-work phase of launching a book, and I wasn't sure how to process it. Is this fun? Is this work? Can it be both? Because it totally is.

In the wee hours of the morning/(night) and in stolen moments here and there, I put together a bunch of fun freebies for anyone who pre-orders a copy of Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted. Some of them are typical (you can automatically download the first two chapters of the in, TODAY!) and others speak to my weirder side (a tour of my home, including the kids' rooms which were filmed in their "native state"). But all of the freebies, every single one of them, is F.U.N. I wanted to be sure they were things that would be very "Shannan", bonuses I would be interested in myself.

In short order, here they are:
* Home tour (It's so unbelievably wonky, guys. Very on-the-fly. Very Martin-esque.)
* Downloadable Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2 (the ultimate tease!)
* A playlist of the music that spoke to me most while writing Falling Free
* A high-res, downloadable fine art print from Jess Franks, one of my favorite artists on the planet.

A note on the printable: IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. As you probably know, I'm a big fat believer in beautiful, gigantic, unique artwork. When I found Jess it was like the skies parted. Through a strange course of events, I was able to track her down and beg her to be a part of this launch. She's an amazing, gifted woman with a huge heart and soulful spirit. You can find her on Instagram here and she also currently has a store at Minted here. (Jess Franks curtains. GAH!!!!!)

I printed mine off on a 2'x3' rolled canvas and tacked it over my couch. I can't stop staring at it.

But back to the pre-order skinny.

If you order five copies of Falling Free (book club! church group!) you get all of the above AND a discussion guide, a recipe book of my favorite recipes, and an additional free signed copy.

I enjoyed putting this together for all of you so very much. It's a tremendous honor to have your support and if I can offer back some legit artwork and a video of myself with bad hair, well, it's the least I can do.

To pre-order, click over to the Falling Free Book website. (There are several options for where you'd like to pre-order.) Then, to redeem your prizes (I feel so very The Price is Right!) just enter your order number and the retailer where you ordered. The goods will be emailed directly to you.

For those of you who have already pre-ordered, just dig through your email, find your receipt, and punch the order number in!

There are also a ton of other things on the website that make me feel squeally and generally middle-schoolerish, like the book trailer, shareable quote images (created with love and talent by my buddy, Katy Girl) and blurbs penned by some of my favorite writers on behalf of my little book.  (hint: THEY MAKE ME WEEPY.)

Check it out, and pass it on!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Launch Team & Summer Pics

It's Friday! It's Friday! And I have news.

My publisher is currently putting together a team of folks to help me launch Falling Free into the stratosphere. Are you interested in being part of the team?

If so, click here and fill out the quick application. (Don't sweat it if you're not active on all types of social media. We just really want people who care about the message of the book and are ready to share about it.)

All launch team members will receive a free (early!) digital download of Falling Free, along with lots of behind-the-scenes action and general tomfoolery. You guys have already been so supportive as I've lived these past several years and then sat down to write it all down. (Spoiler alert: My readers received an extra thank-you in my acknowledgements. Of course you did!)The team is taking applications through midnight tonight - so don't wait. And pass it along if you have a friend who might be interested. The book releases on Sept. 20th and lots of good stuff is coming between now and then. We're going to have so much fun!

In other news, I've been hoarding random summer pictures on my phone and this seems like the perfect time to unload. :)

Happy Friday, Homies!

(My friend Kristen Strong)

(taken by Calvin)

*Amazon affiliate link used

Thursday, July 21, 2016


It has been years since I was up before 6 a.m. for no reason. (I've documented the very life out of the fact that I'm not a morning person.)

I'm the type of woman who, for example, might stir at the quietest mouse-noise when her husband is up at 5:15 to drive an inmate hours away to the rest of his life. I'm the type who will feel slightly annoyed, then will toss and turn for the next 45 minutes, trying to recapture sleep when what she really wants to do is lay there wide awake and marvel over the fact that her husband (even less a morning person) counts it a high honor be the person who walks with men out of and back into freedom, the kind that takes different shapes and blooms unexpectedly, the kind very few of us understand.

But somewhere in the midst of that false start to my day I realized summer wasn't going to enjoy itself, so I boiled water in a barely lit kitchen while Calvin stood beside me with a wad of toilet paper held at his bleeding nose. "Why are you up so early?" Ruby asked, twisting her curls into a cornrow, biding her time until they could turn on a cartoon.

I was up because I know sometime around January, or even November, I'll look out on the slick, black morning and wonder why I didn't take this opportunity to sit on my back patio and drink tea before seven in a t-shirt.

I wish you could see my world right this second.
Lean in. I'll show you.

Across the alley, a neighbor I don't know at all is seizing these first hours of light to mow his grass. He weaves back and forth in his chain-linked postage stamp, ducking under the metal frame swing set each time. I have never noticed that swing set. How long as it been since a child played on it? Does he miss that?

One block west, I hear the morning commute. We live hemmed in by traffic, it's part of the soundtrack of our life now and honestly, I'm not so sure why I ever saw this as a problem. It's its own kind of quiet, sort of like the stillness of the farm, only less alone.

If you look to my left, you'll see our blackberry bushes unable to contain their enthusiasm. Hand to heart, we have never in our lives grown anything more successfully. And it happened here, where I once thought my farmgirl heart would be buried.

Wind chimes sing from the play house along with the birds, a black squirrel races the edge of a chain link fence-row. Steam rises up from my mug. It's supposed to hit 91 today, and feel nearly 100. I will miss this in a few short months. I will miss this.

Maybe later I'll sit and read on the patio bench Cory made me out of an old headboard and a crib mattress, fenced in by our neighbor's coneflowers. Maybe this breeze will stick around longer than they say.

We waited for all of this, through long icy stretches of crystallized breath, mornings where we needed flashlights to walk to school, those snow-boots days where we imagined this and were tempted to believe it was some sort of urban legend. But those months taught me brand new things. The winter of 2016 will go down as the one that made me believe beauty could be found outside of new growth. It's around us, always. It's not hiding. If I'm being honest, there's part of me that has missed its unobscured views, when my vision could stretch further, past bare limbs. and where my ears didn't have nearly the competition they do right now.

A train whistles down the track. (Some things never change.)

Cory has the van today and his muffler-less car is humbling to drive in a way for which I'm not always spiritually equipped. Aside from orchestra drop-off, we have no plan at all today. Taking inventory last night over barbecued chicken and a just-right pineapple, we agreed these days have been our favorites, but I have a hunch that part of their appeal rides in the fact that they're sandwiched between the going, the playing, the dripping-cone, sunburned, tired-out way summer always has with us.

This is the rhythm of life I keep learning to love, where all of it fits within the slow arc of actual living. Up, around, back down. Begin again. Slow then slower, now hurry up.

I'm telling you, if God can hold us here, if He can catch our eye and show us His bright beauty at every point, if He can promise us summer in winter and winter in July, then He can carry our lost sons and our heartbroken daughters. He can carry us.

It's 7:32 and the neighbor's lawn is mown. But look up from his yard, past his red pickup, past the cardinal that perfectly matches its hue, sitting high on a wire. Find the abandoned swing set and look up - right there. Do you see what I see?

Sometimes, if we bother, if we climb out of bed for no reason with sleep in our eyes and bedhead, we'll catch the unexpected. This world won't stop splitting our hearts and healing them up. We are living, breathing contradictions set into haphazard motion of awkward stops and starts from the foundations of the earth.

But if we're willing to wake up to the world pulsing around us, if we're paying attention, we just might catch the moon in the morning.

Happy Thursday, pals.

PS - Years ago, during our first months in this "new" house, I wrote an essay for a compilation book titled Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption. It includes essays from some of my favorite authors (Kris Camealy, Emily P. Freeman, Seth Haines, Sarah Bessey, to name just a few) and it's available now for pre-order. A couple of months ago, the publisher recorded me reading my piece, which then became the trailer for the publication. I'm honored to share it with you today.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Dear White Christian Women,

Can we just agree that last week left us all pretty heartsick? As a woman who writes publicly, who has a 22-year old African American son (with a record), who worries for him to tears, who has witnessed injustice dealt to him, who recently witnessed profound kindness toward him from a white police officer, who desperately loves my community and my neighbors, who aches for the white church to begin bearing the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are People of Color, well, there's just so much to think about. And the thinking doesn't always lend itself to speaking (or writing).

I'm also quite sure in these situations that my voice isn't the one that needs to be heard. I fear adding to the noise. I want to stand for what's true and right, but I want to listen and learn from those whose experience is so vastly different from my own.

I received a beautiful email last Thursday from an African American reader-friend. It was clear to me that we all needed to hear from her. I'd like you to meet Jess. She has been such a gift in processing these hard things and I'm ever-grateful for her willingness to give voice to her pain so we can all grow.

Dear White Christian Women,

I wish I were writing to you today for lighthearted things, but I'm reaching out today because I wanted you to know that I'm broken-hearted. I'm a black woman married to a white man, raising what the world essentially sees as "black males." But they are more than that. They are my babies.  They love me dearly and serve others with all their heart.  But with recent events, I can't help but fear that they will one day be seen as a threat, simply because of their skin color.

I know it's my privilege to serve a savior that is near to the broken hearted.  But I want to walk alongside a community of believers that are near to me as well.  Sadly...that's just not the case.  For every #AltonSterling and #TamirRice, I notice an overwhelming silence from my white Christian sisters.  It’s deafening.  I support every missional cause that my white Christian sisters push on social media for every impoverished country. But where is my community of believers when injustice is happening right in our own backyard? Is it less of a cause because there are no artisanal crafts to sell in honor of the slain?

I'm hurting here.  Really hurting.  Like the kind of hurt that leaves you with no eloquent words...just sobbing.  This. Should. Not. Happen. Whether you believe the victims are criminals or not, they deserve to make it to the police station, just like the police officer deserves to make it home. They deserve due process.  They deserve a trial.  They deserve to see their families again.  They do not deserve to be pulled over for a traffic violation and lose their life.  And when this happens, I want to know that my sisters care. That you think my son shouldn't have to fear for his life one day should he find himself in an encounter with a police officer. 

So what am I asking of my sisters in Christ?  Well, I read Colleen Mitchell’s piece, 10 Reasons I Don't Want to Be Your White Ally. I hear your fears and your questions.  You don’t have to worry about getting it right.  Please just let us know that you “get it.”  Let us know that you acknowledge the pain we feel when we witness another news story about a police officer unnecessarily firing on a man that reminds us of our sons, fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins.  If you have a social media outlet, we don’t expect you to pen an essay every time this happens…because frankly, it’s just too often.  But a statement of solidarity goes a long way. 

And I’m #sorrynotsorry, but I must go there.  Please, if you have an ounce of sensitivity, stop posting #alllivesmatter in response to #blacklivesmatter.  It is dismissive and suggestive that anyone using the hashtag thinks black lives matter over others’ lives or that only black lives matter.  Can we just all agree that ALL LIVES SHOULD MATTER.  We are ALL image bearers of God.  But we continue to see that all lives are often not regarded equally. 

Please know that I write to you not to scold my sisters.  But instead, I pray that God will use my words to serve as a call to unite. 

Your Black Sister-in-Christ


Additional reading: