When DJ Tanner sends you a book in the mail

As part of the B&H Bloggers program, I received a free copy Candace Cameron Bure’s latest book. I spent no less than three days laughing every time I saw it on the coffee table, which is where I thought it might have to remain. I could not in good faith review a book that was the farthest thing for me to reach for, even within the genre of spiritual memoir which is my fave. It just wouldn’t be fair. A good book reviewer will be able to separate the person from the author’s voice; to reserve critique for the author’s character from the author’s content.

I have very little against Candace Cameron Bure. I have listened to her talk at Liberty University. I appreciate the principles upon which she is unwavering as she makes decisions for her career and family. I just don’t think she is exceptionally talented as an actress or inspirational speaker. I didn’t have high hopes for her writing, though I give her credit for letting her co-author Erin Davis have a proper byline. (Ghostwriters get such a bum deal.) Most importantly, though, I was completely prejudiced against the premise of this book. I don’t watch “Dancing with the Stars” which the writer uses as the framework for the events of this memoir, drawing spiritual insights from her time preparing for and performing on this reality TV show. The fact that Bure got a book deal out of a quasi-celebrity TV appearance seemed like–well, I think Uncle Joey’s reaction is apt: Cut. It. Out.

Curiosity got the better of me, though. And you know what? This book is actually pretty substantive. The tone is sincere throughout. Bure clearly cares about the way she comports herself on and off camera. She took her role on the show very seriously and examined every decision through the prism of how she would be representing herself as a godly woman. There are moments that are really inspiring, like how she shares her and her husband Val’s discussion about performing the seductive rumba and the implications for her as a daughter of Christ. The discussion on modesty was comprehensive and not pious. It was accessible, drawing from Proverbs, Psalms, and many parts of the New Testament. I think on these merits alone, the book is worth buying for a young person who is navigating the murky waters on modesty.

Still, the writing is pretty painful at times. In certain moments, it’s as if DJ Tanner is writing the copy. There are sentences like, “Betcha didn’t know that dancing could be such serious business!” Ay. Where is Kimmy Gibbler because we need some comic relief. Moreover, the premise is overall still vomitous. There is a lot of attention paid to social media reactions and the book is written with the assumption that the reader cared deeply about the show and about Bure’s competitive edge. If you have a rabid DWTS fan in your house, this book might be for him or her. However, the spiritual insights within the framework of one season of one show was just not enough for a solid story skeleton. A book like Devon Franklin’s “Produced by Faith” does a much better job using show business as a metaphor wherein the spiritual life is examined.

Bure’s book can probably be read in about a week and is available in paperback.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above (typically those to books) may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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In which I talk about what’s happening with my book

“What’s happening with your book?”

I get that a lot. In addition to, “How did you get your hair to do that cool thing?” and “Are you sure that’s how ‘research’ is pronounced?” Or from my students: “Did you grade all the things yet?” Or from my kids: “Do we have any of those Spiderman fruit snacks left?”

I’m good for an equal measure of answers. Dunno. Maybe. Still foggy on that one. Okay?

But the book question plagues me a lot and so I thought I’d lay it out bare. Here’s what’s happening with my book.

You may remember how I wrote a spiritual memoir about my intercultural marriage. And how I got an agent and she turned out to be wonderful. She helped me craft a killer proposal and she submitted it to two full rounds of Christian publishers. My agent has been as kind and thorough as she has been prayerful.

Her positude has made a huge difference because the road to finding a publisher can be quite negative. Waiting and waiting seems to beget more waiting and then the door one’s been knocking on opens quickly and then closes. The rejection feels rare and fresh every time. It’s been a long process of all of that. All said, I’ve been pouring my guts into this book–the writing and the pitching and the proposing for about three years.

After two rounds of rejections from publishers, here are three things I’ve learned:

1. I am not Oprah. I am not Oprah’s best friend Gayle. I am not Joel Osteen or his wife or anyone whom they’d remember in the Osteen will. Ergo, I am not famous and a book deal isn’t going to fall into my lap. My platform, the invisible box upon which I stand to promote my ideas, is pretty microscopic compared to others who score big book deals. This is an obvious hurdle and not one to easily dismiss. Publishers care about platform and it’s more than just being invited to the popular girls’ table in the cafeteria. It’s a marketing base. It’s a branding package. It’s the underpinnings to some really successful empires.

2. I am so close to this book. My kind colleague and his wife taught me that. They recently read the manuscript and gave me some keen feedback which is helping me to shape a new iteration of it. Because this book is so intertwined in the fibers of my being, to be perfectly dramatic, I needed some distance from it. I needed some extra eyeballs to help me reshape it. I’m so grateful for their input and for all who have helped me to keep believing.

3. I still believe in this book. When I hear of others struggling through issues in their family or marriage that fall into the bucket of intercultural relationships, my heart starts beating fast.  This is my bag! I want to say, “I have so dealt with something similar,” followed by a, “And I hope you enjoy Chapter 4, if only for a laugh about what not to do, courtesy yours truly.” I believe there is a captive audience for my book. I believe that there is potential for this book to really bless others and to be a part of some important conversations that have for too long felt too awkward to broach.

So to the question of what’s happening with my book: it’s gearing up for the sprint home. It’s in better shape than it’s ever been. It’s so ready to break through a publisher’s ribbon and to stand in the winner’s circle. But first, let me take a selfie.


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Hanging out with Lena Dunham

It was so good to hang out with you today, Lena, and I would like to thank Terry Gross for facilitating the conversation and asking most of the questions I would have asked and some I wouldn’t have thought of but was glad she asked you anyway, snorty laughter notwithstanding.

I am still dancing around in the echo of what you said about how oversharing is a “gendered term.” You said men who share about their experiences are deemed brave, but women are relegated to oversharing. I agree. I’ve sat at plenty of lunchtables with men talking perversion and misogyny and using expletives every other word and I got the impression that I was just supposed to hang. Whereas women asking for a tampon at anything above a whisper is considered gauche. I don’t know if this is a battle we will ever win, dear Lena, the war of who gets permission to share true things, but that reminds me of something else illuminating you said. You explained how Hannah, the character you play in “Girls,” is the one who feels charged with saying all the true things out loud, except she forgets that there are social constructs in place for a reason.

I feel this way.
All the time.

I live in reaction to a very private family. I think my temperament is also pretty no bologna and having spent a decade in New England, I’m wicked blunt. But to my family, I’m all, “Okay, people, I’m calling everyone onto the floor who is still wearing a scrunchie from 1994″ and my family is sort of, “Anybody care for some tea?”

So what I’m saying, Lena Dunham, is that I think we get each other. Also, did I say how cute your hair is looking on your Vogue cover? Ah, and by the way, congrazzles on the rave reviews of your book. Michiko Kakutani? Girrrrl.

Full disclosure, though: I couldn’t get into “Girls” and it’s not for the lack of trying on my part or a lack of talent for writing and acting on your part. It was just one of those salt-in-the-wounds reminders of how I sort of forgot to live in New York in my twenties and how I cannot fathom how many sexually transmitted diseases would be involved if life were really like that. That’s where my brain goes. Everybody else is, Look how brave! Look how true! And I am tar-heeled paralyzed in the corner, pondering whether or not all those characters would be filling prescriptions for crabs.

Was that the sound of me oversharing again?

::presses publish because knows Lena Dunham won’t mind::

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