Friday, April 18, 2014

Stumbling Block can be Blessings in Disguise

Sometimes stumbling blocks can be blessings in disguise. This, I feel, is very much the case in the many problems that have besought the release of my latest book. Allow me to go into detail.

     March 31 I received an early April Fool's jolt: a call from Max Adam, the ex-German soldier whose story I retell in my book. He informs me that he cannot accept the title of my book--that I'll have to change it. I Wouldn't Serve Hitler was just not true. He had to serve Hitler or his family would be in danger, and thus he felt the title would reflect poorly upon his name.
     On a side note, for the past several week up to this point, I had been hounding my publisher for a copy of the book's cover. I had a book blog tour in place and I needed to make a banner for its PR. Also, The King's English Bookshop had been asking and asking for a copy of the cover to post on their site to advertise my book launch party. The same morning I received the call from Max, I was finally sent a copy of my book cover.
     I immediately called my editor after talking to Max and told her about Max's disapproval. The book was literally fifteen minutes away from going to press. She pulled the plug on it, took the matter to the committee, and they quickly came up with a new title: Surviving Hitler, A Mormon Soldier in the German Army. I liked the title better than the original one. It was more accurate. Max liked the title and so the ball got back in motion at top speed designing a new cover to fit the new title. I never saw that cover. My editor didn't get a chance to send it to me. Instead she called to tell me that we had to change the title yet again. Deseret Book was coming out with a WWII novel in July titled: Surviving Hitler: the Unlikely story of an SS Officer and a Jew (or something like that). If we went with our Surviving Hitler title, they wouldn't carry my book in their stores.

     The committee met and came up with Conflicted: a Mormon Soldier in Hitler's Army. 
     I hated the new title. It sounded like a romance novel to me--at least the main title. And who really pays that much attention to subtitles? I racked my brain, trying to come up with something better. Nothing was coming to mind. I dropped to my knees and begged for some help. I got back up and decided--with almost a flippant attitude, for what did I have to lose--that I'd go to the scriptures for help; I'd just let them flop open at random and see what inspiration I could pull from the page. My book is a WWII story and I was going to the scriptures for ideas--yeah right. It wasn't really expecting anything. My quadruple combination (4 books of scriptures in one for those of you not familiar with Mormon lingo), fell open to Alma, chapter 7. The word dilemma almost jumped out of verse 18. That was it: The Hitler Dilemma. After all, that is really what Max's story was about; the dilemma of serving Hitler when it went against everything he knew and felt.

    I ran the new title past Max. He liked it. I submitted it to my publisher. They liked it and decided to go with it instead of Conflicted. (Perhaps it was because I lambasted the lame title, telling them I didn't want my book to come up on an Amazon search grouped with racy romance novels). So the cover artists got to work immediately using the new title.
     Yesterday I received a copy of the new cover. I hated it. Maybe not hated, but it was so absolutely boring that it made me cry.
     I emailed, and then called the cover person and begged them to change it. I told them I didn't mind the design, but please change the coloring. In fact, I loved the coloring of the previous cover, couldn't they just used that same red and gray color scheme. Red absolutely had to be in the cover somewhere--I think red when I think Nazi.

     Today when I checked my email, I saw the new cover. I liked it much better. Still I wondered why they didn't go with the gray and red like I had requested. Then I read her explanation; they had discovered that the book that Deseret Book was releasing in July looked very similar to my original book cover with the red and gray. I agreed, we needed my book to be distinctly different from theirs.
     Just as I was ready to give myself a pity party for all of the hurtles and delays in the release of my book, and overwhelming sense of gratitude pushed my negative urge away. All these road blocks stood out as blessings instead. At the beginning of this entire process, I asked for God's help in getting my book out there into the hands of as many readers who would be blessed by this story as possible. God sees the big picture. He knew what was needed for my book to stand out, appeal to the reader, and get it seen by the most people. His tender little mercies are humbling.

   Here it is, finally, the official title and cover of my new book. Details of its release date are upcoming.


  1. Carolyn, I LOVE this post and the new cover! I can't wait to read it.

  2. Carolyn, I LOVE this post and the new cover! I can't wait to read it.

  3. Wow. That bit of color made a huge difference!